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Everton 2 (Duggan 33, Hinnigan 52) Chelsea 0
Everton's World Cup stars may have been the main attraction as the Blues resumed their FA WSL campaign against Chelsea at Marine but it was Toni Duggan that inspired an impressive
2-0 victory a day before her 20th birthday.
Duggan scored Everton's first goal before playing a major part in Michelle Hinnigan's close range strike as Mo Marley's side started the second half of their league season in the same way they finished the first half.
Everton are now just two points behind third place Chelsea, with consecutive home games against Liverpool and Arsenal to come next week.
The hosts were able to include Rachel Brown, Rachel Unitt and Jill Scott in their side, all of whom had been part of Hope Powell's England squad for the Women's World Cup in Germany but an injury to their international colleague Fara Williams meant Brooke Chaplen started in central midfield.
The game's early stages appeared to reflect the fact that neither side had played a competitive fixture for some two months. Fern Whelan's underhit back pass after less than a minute of the game created panic in the Everton defence and that was the start of an untidy spell of football.
Rachel Brown had not been used in the World Cup but provided an important reminder of her ability on 18 minutes. Danielle Buet hammered a free kick goalwards but Brown diverted the ball over the bar for a corner.
Gradually Everton's midfield began to gain the upper hand, Jill Scott's commanding presence allowed the likes of Toni Duggan and Jody Handley to express themselves further forward.
On 33 minutes it was Duggan who put Everton ahead. Chelsea failed to deal with Rachel Unitt's teasing cross and Duggan nipped in with a smart finish.
Just two minutes later Unitt came to Everton's rescue as Kate Longhurst rounded Brown but the Blues left back was on the line to make the clearance.
Seven minutes after half time Duggan was presented with the opportunity to make it 2-0 as Whelan chested the ball into her path from a left wing corner but she volleyed over when well placed.
Less than a minute had passed before Duggan played a major part in Everton's second goal. The teenager's shot from outside the box was only parried by Carly Telford and Michelle Hinnigan reacted quickest to bundle home.
The afternoon could have got even better for Duggan on 72 minutes after another clever one-two with Dowie - the winger had time to shoot inside the penalty area but her effort lacked the power to trouble Telford.
By now Chelsea were being attacked from all angles and Dowie shrugged off skipper Kylie Davies but shot straight at the opposition 'keeper.
With 13 minutes to play Mo Marley introduced Amy Kane and Gwennan Harries and it was Harries who went closest to scoring a third. The Welsh attacker's effort came back off the post and then Telford reacted sharply to deny Handley from eight yards out to keep it 2-0.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton, Rachel Unitt, Brooke Chaplen (sub Amy Kane 77mins), Lindsay Johnson, Fern Whelan, Jody Handley, Jill Scott (sub Jess Holbrook 88mins), Natasha Dowie, Michelle Hinnigan, Toni Duggan (sub Gwennan Harries 77mins). Subs not used: Danielle Hill, Lucy Bronze.
Chelsea: Carly Telford, Sophie Perry, Claire Rafferty, Danielle Buet, Gemma Bonner, Kylie Davies, Hayley Morwood, Kate Longhurst (sub Emma Plewa 77mins), Ashlee Hincks, Helen Lander, Leanne Champ (sub Drew Spence 68mins). Subs not used: Sarah Quantrill, Naomi Cole, Rebecca Jane.
(Report by www.TheFA.com)
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