Everton Women suffered their first home defeat of the season against Chelsea in front of a club record Walton Hall Park attendance.

A brace either side of half-time from Pernille Harder and a stoppage time goal from Niamh Charles was enough to secure a hard-fought 3-1 victory, despite Everton equalising through a Kadeisha Buchanan own-goal.

A crowd of 1,668 was the highest ever recorded at Walton Hall Park, recognition for the positive start to the season that Brian Sorensen’s team have made.

Walton Hall Park prior to kick off.
Everton Women’s stadium, Walton Hall Park.

Sorensen’s side started the game on the front-foot and had an opportunity to take the lead, as Lucy Graham drove into the box to see a goal-bound drive deflected wide.

Chelsea’s experienced heads then began to take control of proceedings. Sam Kerr was the first to threaten as she picked up the ball in a promising position, but a dragged shot failed to test Courtney Brosnan.

Harder was the next to come close, lifting an effort over the bar following neat interplay with Kerr.

The reigning Women’s Super League Champions started to dominate the encounter and had several guilt-edged chances to open the score.

Guro Reiten broke into the area and forced Brosnan into a smart save, before Lauren James’ fierce strike was deflected onto the crossbar.

Soon after, the deadlock was deservedly broken in neat fashion. Strong wing-play by Reiten allowed her to pick out a superb cross, emphatically dispatched by Harder.

The Danish forward was a thorn in the side of Everton’s defence all afternoon and missed a big chance on the brink of half-time to make it two. Kerr unselfishly teed up Harder, but the scorer of Chelsea’s first goal failed to convert.

Everton began the second-half in similar style to the first, pressing with intensity. Hanna Bennison won the ball back in an advanced area, but her strike from inside the box was superbly blocked by Buchanan.

The Toffees were then rewarded for their positive start to the half and found an equaliser. The ball was loose inside the penalty area following a corner and Buchanan saw the ball deflect off her and into the net.

In typical Chelsea fashion, the lead was regained after just four minutes. Reiten drove into the box, rounded Brosnan and subsequently won a penalty as the Chelsea forward got to the ball first.

Harder dispatched the spot-kick to score her second of the afternoon and give Chelsea the lead once again.

Substitute Johanna Kaneryd then came agonisingly close to finding a Chelsea third as a thunderous drive hit the upright for the second-time in the contest.

In stoppage time, the contest was wrapped up as fellow substitute Niamh Charles charged through and finished emphatically, giving Chelsea a 3-1 win and an important three points.

Everton are next in action with a visit to Aston Villa in the Women’s Super League.