Bristol City grabbed a late goal to seal a 2-1 win over Everton in a sun-soaked afternoon at the Marine Travel Arena in Crosby.
First-half goals from Danielle Turner and Lauren Hemp sent the sides in level at the break, but an 89th-minute free-kick from Julie Biesmans secured a vital win for the away side.
The result sees the Vixens swap places with the Toffees in the WSL 1 table, with Bristol moving up to eighth and Everton dropping to ninth.
The hosts took an early lead, as Turner latched on to a long ball forward from Angharad James, to calmly slot past Sophie Baggaley on seven minutes.
Bristol City struck back ten minutes later, as some neat interplay in midfield found Hemp in space on the edge of the Everton penalty area, and she blasted home into the bottom corner.
The visitors had the better chances in the remainder of the first half, with Biesmans firing an effort just over the bar on 22 minutes, and Hemp sent a curling shot just off target five minutes later.
Everton started the second half brightly, and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk almost put them in front, but her effort from a tight angle just missed the far post, on 48 minutes.
She was denied a again on 69 minutes, as an excellent late intervention from Mille Turner prevented her from making contact with a whipped left wing cross.
The home side increased the pressure in the closing stages, with Megan Finnigan’s header saved by Baggaley on 76 minutes, but there was little they could do about Biesmans’ spectacular late free kick from the right, which evaded everyone and flew into the top corner.
Bristol City manager Willie Kirk said: “To be honest, with a few minutes to go, I was standing in the side of the pitch thinking we just need one chance. I didn’t expect it to come from a wide free kick, but the work up to it came from our young sub Lily Woodham. She was only on for five minutes, but she played a big part.
“The girls have had a tough week: we took a sore result against Man City, we were down to 14 players ahead of today and we got a player injured in the warm-up. We’ve been up against it, but we responded with a lot of heart and endeavour.
“The girls showed a lot of maturity in the back line today, it was a very well organised second half performance. Everyone played their part and we had to stay strong in the second half.”
Everton’s Chloe Kelly said: “We are really disappointed not to get a draw out of the game. I think we lacked concentration towards the end.
“On the whole we need to work on being more switched on in the closing minutes.
“We started the game and we need to control things when we do take the lead, and I think we lacked that today. When we take the lead we need to stay tight defensively, as today we lost what we had done well.”
Sheffield FC ecorded their fourth straight FA Women’s Super League 2 win with a 3-0 win over high-flying Millwall Lionesses to continue their excellent recent form.
Early strikes from Melissa Johnson and Niamh Cashin put Zoe Johnson’s side in control within 15 minutes and an early strike in the second half from Chloe Dixon sealed the deal.
Sheffield are up to fifth in the league table while the Lionesses remain second, five points behind leaders Doncaster Roves Belles having played a game more.
It’s the first time in their time as an FA WSL side Sheffield have recorded four league wins on the bounce and they couldn’t have started any better.
Johnson opened the scoring by finding the top corner from Hannah Cain’s pass and it was 2-0 after less than ten minutes when Cain turned her marker on the left before crossing for Cashin to double their lead.
Millwall’s best chance of the half fell to Ellie Mason who could only smash her effort high and wide before Sheffield put the result beyond doubt after the break.
Dixon shot through a crowd of players from the edge of the Millwall box and deceived Quantrill to put Sheffield into a 3-0 lead.
Millwall had their best chance of the game late on when Danielle Gibbons pulled off an excellent save from close range to deny Rianna Dean a consolation goal for the Lionesses.
WHAT THEY SAID
Sheffield manager Zoe Johnson said: “We’ve spoke about scoring early goals because we struggle when we go behind but if we manage to get that first goal it eases us into the game. We spoke about the importance of getting that first goal.
“We also knew Millwall will come back at you so after the first goal we had to make sure we were secure and killed any momentum and they did that.
“They’ve been solid today and clean sheets is something we’ve been working on because we have a very inexperienced back four but I personally believe we have the best goalkeeper in the league.
Millwall manager Lee Burch said: “You can’t come to Sheffield and not perform because they’re a good side who have been in good form.
“I felt we were comfortable at times, we were going forward and knocking the ball around and they’ve hit us twice early on from nowhere.
“I felt we had a goal in ourselves but the third goal coming so quickly in the second half is disappointing because it came in the same fashion as the others.
Kirsty Barton put the gloss on an excellent afternoon’s work for Brighton as they moved ahead of Millwall into second in the FA WSL 2, with a 4-1 win over Watford.
Simona Petkova had put the Hornets into a surprise lead after 15 minutes, but Brighton levelled and moved ahead soon afterwards through Danielle Buet and Ini Umotong.
Bronwen Thomas added a third before the break and Barton rounded off the scoring 15 minutes from time.
Watford took a shock lead against the run of play as Brighton surrendered possession in a dangerous area and the Hornets duly punished them, Helen Ward finding Petkova who finished over Lucy Gillet.
Their lead lasted all of two minutes, as Brighton atoned for their error from the penalty spot.
Jenna Legg was haphazardly bundled over by Tyra Poole in the box, and skipper Buet slotted in the resulting spot kick to level the scores.
The Seagulls moved ahead shortly afterwards when Chloe Peplow’s 25th-minute corner was nodded in by Umotong, her 10th goal of the season, and a deserved lead for the home side.
The result was all but sealed before half-time when Thomas struck in first-half stoppage time from Fliss Gibbons’ low cross to double Albion’s lead and Barton confirmed the result, profiting from a goal-mouth scramble to finish low in the corner.
Brighton moved into second courtesty of Millwall’s defeat at Sheffield FC, while Watford’s search for a first win in the FA WSL 2 continues.
WHAT THEY SAID
Brighton goal scorer Ini Umotong said: “We tried to play our game and take it to them and I think we did really well in the first half.
“I don’t want to blame anything, but I think the hot conditions affected how the game ended.
“We just let the ball do the work and in the first half we did that but in the second half I think it showed, that the heat just got to us.”
Watford striker Helen Ward said: “We’ve come out here against a side that’s third in the table, and I thought we came out really well, deservedly went one-nil up.
“It’s just a shame that a bit of concentration lapses from the corner and then the penalty so soon afterwards, we haven’t led many games this season, if any.
“If we could have held on to that lead for a little bit longer I think it would have turned out differently, but credit to Brighton, they knew they had to step up, and they did.”
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