Everton manager Willie Kirk said “small details” cost his side as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Reading on Saturday.
The Blues were looking to bounce back from suffering their first Women’s Super League defeat of the season against champions Chelsea last weekend and went ahead through Simone Magill’s 39th-minute header.
However, Natasha Harding struck just three minutes later to earn the Royals a point at Walton Hall Park.
Everton – who remain third in the WSL standings after seven games – almost won it at the death but Megan Finnigan saw her injury-time header brilliantly kept out by Reading stopper Grace Moloney.
“Without a doubt, after the first few games of the season we weren’t the best team in England, just like we’re not the worst team in England now,” said Kirk.
“We’re still a top team and we’ve still got things to work on. I said at the time when we were winning games that we were operating at 70 per cent.
“Unfortunately, it hasn’t crept up to 80, 85 per cent, which it probably should have, but again it’s the small details [that have cost us].”
Everton started the better of the two sides, winning an early free-kick. The ball came to Nicoline Sorensen at the back post but she could only lash her effort over the top of Moloney’s crossbar.
Hayley Raso nearly found herself in on goal as the game ticked over the 15-minute mark. However, in wet and blustery conditions, Claire Emslie’s ball skidded away from the Australia international, allowing Moloney to slide in and collect.
Reading had the game’s first shot on target on 20 minutes, Jess Fishlock taking aim from the edge of the area and forcing Sandy MacIver into an awkward stop.
The visitors grew into the game from then on. However, the weather was playing havoc for both sides, resulting in the game becoming scrappy, with neither team creating much from open play.
Everton took the lead on 39 minutes. The hosts did well to work an opportunity for Sorensen, and though Moloney kept out the Dane’s attempt, Magill was there to head in the rebound from close range.
Reading responded well, equalising three minutes later through Harding. She ran down the right-hand side and her cross-cum-shot looped over MacIver into the far corner.
Everton’s second half start mirrored that of the first. Raso’s early cross nearly forced an own goal from Rachael Rowe but she just about managed to get her clearance over the bar.
Emslie then had a great chance to restore Everton’s lead on 54 minutes. An excellent pull back from Sorensen found the Scot on the edge of the box but she drove her shot high and wide.
Reading made changes around the hour mark. Former Everton midfielder Fara Williams’ first contribution was very nearly an assist. Her free-kick found Kristine Leine but the Norwegian’s header went just wide.
At the other end, Sorensen and Emslie were finding each other regularly. The two almost combined to great effect with 20 minutes remaining but, from 12-yards out, Emslie headed wide of the target.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Finnigan found herself forward from a corner and her goal-bound shot was well blocked by Fishlock.
Moloney then produced a top-class save from the same Everton defender in the final minute of stoppage time, clawing the centre-back’s header from the top corner to ensure her team left with a point.
“Grace didn’t have a problem tonight so she probably deserves that save at the end. It was outstanding,” said Kirk.
“Certainly, from where I was standing, it was a class save.
He continued: “I must admit, we never got many breaks of the ball tonight but when you work as hard as Reading do then you probably deserve them breaks to go your way.
“On a different day we could have won two, three or four nil because we did have big chances tonight.”
Next up for Kirk’s side is a Merseyside derby in the Continental Cup on Wednesday,