Everton dominate and win away at Aston Villa in FA Cup

Everton players celebrate after scoring a goal
Megan Finnigan of Everton celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Women's Super League match vs Bristol City on November 19, 2023 (Photo by Jess Hornby/Getty Images)

The fourth round of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup saw Carla Ward’s Aston Villa go head to head with Brian Sørensen’s Everton at the Poundland Bescot Stadium for a place in the next round.

It was interesting to see how both teams would manifest themselves on the back of new signings. The two sides will return to Women’s Super League action next weekend, with Everton facing Arsenal and Aston Villa taking on Leicester City.

The line-ups: Aston Villa vs Everton

Aston Villa

Leat; Mayling, Patten, Staniforth, Corsie (C), Nobbs, Daly, Dali, Hanson, Leon, Maritz.

Substitutes: Van Domselaar, Lehmann, McLoughlin, Salmon, Mullet, Blindkilde Brown, Magill, Sallaway.

Everton

Brosnan; Wheeler, Bennison, Bissell, Payne, Finnigan (C), Galli, S Holmgaard, Snoeijs, Stenevik, Olesen.

Substitutes: Hart, Veje, Campbell, Duggan, Hope Piemonte, Kühl, Madsen, Wilding.

First half

With both sides aware that a win would be the only way to progress in the Cup, this was a fast-paced game from the start.

Everton were efficient in defending an early corner from Aston Villa, with the Blues swiftly launching their counter-attack. Ward’s side were quick to regain possession, and a cross in to Rachel Daly saw their first shot of the game, but it was unproblematic for Irish international Courtney Brosnan in goal.

Sørensen’s side also created their fair share of chances throughout a competitive opening ten minutes of the match. The Blues were close to causing trouble for Villa, with an attempt from Heather Payne saved by Anna Leat in the 17th minute. Their near misses appeared to provide Everton with a boost. While not the most clinical, the opportunities were certainly presenting themselves and forcing Villa to be rigorous defensively, something they have struggled with so far this season. The momentum was there for Everton more so than it was for Villa, but the final execution was lacking.

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Goalkeeper Leat gave an impressive performance, with Everton’s accurate shots being well-collected by her when they needed it most. The Villans’ backline did not look overly comfortable faced with large numbers of blue shirts in their box, no doubt to manager Ward’s concern.

Goalless heading into the break

While Villa had managed to deny Everton a goal as the half drew to a close, even key players Daly and Kenza Dali were struggling to get into the game. Their chances largely came from long-range shots as they were unable to break through in the final third. There was not necessarily a clear dominant side in the first half. Possession turnover was high, with both sides putting in tackles across the board.

The opening 45 minutes had Everton looking like the favourites to score. Sørensen’s side would be disappointed not to have made the most of their opportunities up until this point. The deadlock in this game of counters was yet to be broken.

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Second half

The beginning of the second half was eventful. Villa started stronger, with a header from Daly saved once again by Brosnan. Hanna Bennison soon took Everton dangerously close to taking the lead, though. Her strike from outside of the box just came off the inside of the post.

The game opened up, with Villa looking more dangerous than in the first half, as they often do. Villa’s defensive woes have been exacerbated today by the absence of Maz Pacheco, who was serving a one-match ban following the double yellow card she received before Christmas.

The 57th minute saw Karoline Olesen finally open the score line for Everton to take a deserved lead. The player’s beautifully precise strike to secure her first goal for the club was beyond Leat, hitting the top right corner of the goal with stunning accuracy. Olesen was given too much space by Villa’s defence, creating a prime goalscoring opportunity for her.

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Villa were quick to respond just minutes later, but Adriana Leon’s header was off-target. The No.23 took them close to an equaliser again in the 68th minute as the Blues’ defence was briefly lacking. Ward’s side continued to attempt at pushing forward, but Everton remained proactive in their press. Villa had little trouble getting into wide positions, but the their delivery was not of a high enough quality.

Everton manager Sørensen could be heard instructing his players to keep the ball, and to slow the game down. The head coach understandably felt that his players could now play less frantically than they had so far. The squad looked to adopt this mentality in order to continue their strong performance. Substitute and debutant Kathrine Kühl played a key role in their midfield, tracking back to make a crucial contribution in defence at the 76th minute.

The Toffees extend their lead

Kühl continued to impress, making her way into the final third. Everton doubled their lead following an excellent finish by Katja Snoeijs in the 78th minute. The Dutch international had no problem finding the back of the net. This was a further blow for the struggling Aston Villa, who had once again failed to make the most of their counter-attacking opportunities.

Less than ten minutes later, Everton were awarded a much-contested penalty. This was taken calmly by Snoeijs, who had been come into contact with Anna Patten in the box. The striker stepped up, securing the Toffees their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

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Villa desperately sought after a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game. Regardless of what could be deemed a harsh penalty, Everton’s two goals from open play could have been prevented with a better, more efficient defensive communication and structure.

Everton walked away triumphant having defeated Aston Villa. They reminded any doubters that they are indeed a team worth watching. The Toffees are determined to make the most of their time competing in the FA Cup.

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