Graham inspires Everton to an opening day victory
Bristol City: Baggaley; Bryson (Allen); Evans; Matthews (c) (Rafferty); Purfield; Palmer; Mastrantonio; Humphrey (Daniels); Wellings; Harrison (Salmon); Logarzo
Everton: MacIver; Moe Wold; Finnigan; Sevecke; Turner (Pattinson); Clemaron (Stringer); Graham; Christiansen; Sørensen (Emslie); Magill (Gauvin); Raso (Boye-Hlorakh)
Bristol City 0 v 4 Everton (Magill; Graham x2; Gauvin)
Everton started the season on the front foot with a comfortable win over Bristol City. They controlled much of the ball in the first half and took the lead through Simone Magill in the seventh minute. Lucy Graham then doubled their lead just over ten minutes later when she turned home a cross at the far post. Bristol struggled to trouble MacIver in the visitors’ goal until the second half. They did improve but Everton extended their lead through a Lucy Graham penalty. Substitute, Valerie Gauvin, scored her first for the club in injury time to round off the victory.
Player of the Match
Lucy Graham: The Everton midfielder returned to haunt her old club with a captain’s performance at Twerton Park. She led her side by example as the focal point of most of their attacking moves, driving her team forward to the box time and time again. She produced a beautiful assist for the opener and scored two of her own to cap off a fine performance.
Stand out moment
Magill’s opener: The first goal of the game, was without doubt, the best of the afternoon and kicked off a confident Everton display. With the Toffees cutting out a clearance, the ball came to Graham outside the box. She produced a delightful back-heeled flick that looped over the Bristol defence and into the path of Magill. One-on-one, the Northern Ireland striker made no mistake in taking her opportunity.
- Everton will be a force this season: There has been much talk of Willie Kirk’s squad over the summer and they did not disappoint. They hit the ground running early on and showed what they are all about this season. Their combination play in attack really stood out throughout the game – the triangles and link up working perfectly as they pushed forward. Their power off the bench is also notable this season with Kirk able to bring the likes of Claire Emslie and Gauvin on to freshen things up.
- Everton’s new faces: The new signings who lined up in the starting XI for Everton looked like they had always been there. Despite signing in January, there were debuts for Izzy Christiansen and Hayley Raso, who settled into the flow of the game very quickly. Another debutant, Nicoline Sørensen, looked bright as part of the front three and probably should have had a goal or two of her own. Another positive sign of things to come.
- Bristol’s return from injuries: With last season blighted by injury, Bristol welcomed back two players who have been out long-term. Abi Harrison took to the pitch for the first time since doing her ACL and got a good 55 minutes under her belt. Carla Humphrey also returned to the action after injuring her foot back in January. She grew into the game in the second half alongside Ella Mastrantonio and Aimee Palmer in the middle of the park.
It’s really important we got them back. We don’t expect miracles. You can imagine, it must be really nerve-wracking when you’re coming back from an ACL…I was really pleased with her work rate today and I thought her hold up play was good as well. Carla is going to take a little bit of time to get back to her best in terms of on the ball, but again her work rate was exceptional and she got through a bag of minutes today, which is great.TANYA OXTOBY, BRISTOL CITY MANAGER
- Bristol’s forward play needs improvement: Despite what the scoreline might say, Bristol didn’t have a terrible afternoon and looked promising in spells. However, their ball in the final third wasn’t there, especially in the first half, and they struggled to create meaningful opportunities. It will be a priority for Tanya Oxtoby to fix if they are to have success this season.
Quote of the Day
I thought Aimee Palmer was excellent today. We were talking about it in the stand and I’m so happy she’s got an opportunity at this level. She was cutting things out and starting the attacks for us. I’m just really pleased for her to get some game time under her belt.TANYA OXTOBY, BRISTOL CITY MANAGER