Nickname: The Toffees
Stadium: Pure Stadium (Southport FC)
FAWSL Position: 5th (18 points)
The Toffees have been one of the stand out packages in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League so far this season after they had an impressive first half of the campaign. The Blue side of Merseyside currently sit 5th in the league and have notched up some notable results so far this term. The result of their season so far would surely have to be their 1-0 triumph over Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, at Anfield in November, as Lucy Graham’s goal sealed the points in a historic victory over the Reds.
The Blues have been solid at home and have only been defeated on home soil twice in the league this season. The only teams to come away with the taste of victory from the Pure Season are the league’s top two, Arsenal and Manchester City, thus the Bees will have to bring their best game when the sides meet at the back end of the month. In general, the Toffees don’t concede many goals either and have the fifth-best defensive record in the top flight with only 11 goals being notched by opposition sides. The ran current FA Cup holders Manchester City all the way as they left Merseyside 1-o winners thanks to a strike from Lionesses captain Steph Houghton.
Since the turn of the year, the hosts have notched more impressive results, as early as last week in fact as they overcame Reading with a 3-1 home victory. One to watch, Chloe Kelly scored all three goals for the Toffees and she’ll be looking to continue that fine form if she takes to the field against the Bees.
Lee Burch will be pleased with his sides start to the new decade following four points and back to back clean sheets in the Bees first two outings. After starting the year with a 2-0 away win over rivals London City Lionesses, the Bees followed it up with a gritty 0-0 draw away to a strong Lewes side.
This will be a much tougher test of the Bees, as they travel to take on WSL opposition. However, they’ll head there with plenty of confidence after going two matches without defeat. The Bees have historically struggled against top flight opponents, but in a one-off cup clash, anything can happen!
The Manager: Willie Kirk
Many could argue that if the Toffees continue their current form then Kirk has an outside chance of becoming voted manager of the season. Kirk has had a varying career which has spanned across Scotland and England, he joined the Blues in December of 2018, where he guided his side to a 10th place finish. The Scotsman started his career North of the border as an academy coach in the men’s game at Livingston before a short move to Preston Athletic saw him move to Hibbs, again as an academy coach. He soon became Head Coach of Hibbs LFC, where he had a very successful spell winning the Scottish Cup in his first season. He then guided them to a second-place finish in the table in the 2012/13 season, subsequently being named manager of the year.
His first spell as a Head Coach in England came with Bristol City where after relegation he led them back to the top flight at the first time of asking. Following that the Robins then achieved back to back 8th place finishes in the WSL as they built stability at the highest level. Kirk’s next role was to be number two at newly formed Manchester United Women, as he worked alongside Red Devils Head Coach Casey Stoney in the FA Women’s Championship. However, the spell with United was short-lived as he made the move across the North-West to join Everton, where his side has gone on from strength to strength.
The top scorer: Chloe Kelly
The Bees one to look out for, should she play will be Chloe Kelly. She’s having a strong season with the Toffees and has notched eight goals in all competitions so far this term. She comes into the game in fine form after netting a hat-trick in her sides 3-1 victory over Reading last time out. Before that her last goal came in the home defeat to WSL Champions Arsenal in December, where coincidentally she started her career, making 13 appearances in her early career. She seems to have settled in well in Merseyside where she has been for the past two and a half seasons, this has been far her best season so far. The England international had at one point scored four goals in as many matches for the Toffees and she will look to kick on in this second part of the season. Although the Bees will be hoping to keep her quiet on January 26th!
What Burch said:
Every time you play in the cup competitions, the fa cup being the main one when you play higher opposition, you go in as underdogs. We know that on Sunday we are going to have to play really well against a strong Everton side. this is football, this is what it’s all about we go there wanting to win the game.
The Conti Cup has given us the opportunity to play WSL sides, but this is a different format because of it not being a midweek game. The FA Cup will hopefully bring the best out of us.
It’s been a good month, 4 points, two clean sheets against two difficult sides. Particularly at places that are difficult to go and get points, it’s been a good start. Performance-wise we’re a lot happier with the London City performance in possession, whereas Lewes we lacked some quality in possession, but out of possession we found a bit of consistency across the two games. We’re definitely going to need that (consistency) going into a tough Everton game. The players are really looking forward to it.