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Bristol Academy 1 (Del Rio Garcia 75)
Everton 1 (Williams pen 9)
Bristol Academy and Everton stayed level on points and goal difference in the FA WSL after the home side fought back from a lacklustre first half to earn a share of the spoils.
On a wet playing surface at Stoke Gifford, it was Academy who created the first opportunity as Grace McCatty's pass down the right was latched onto by Laura Del Rio Garcia, who cut inside Alex Greenwood's challenge before shooting straight at Rachel Brown.
It was Everton who went into the lead on nine minutes though when a good ball down the left by Greenwood was chased by Toni Duggan and the winger tumbled under a challenge from the advancing Siobhan Chamberlain near the goal line. A penalty was awarded and Fara Williams confidently sent Chamberlain the wrong way from the spot to send her side ahead.
The goal visibly lifted Everton's confidence and they passed the ball around well but Academy were close to being back on terms midway through the first half. Jessica Fishlock floated a free kick into the area which was not held by Brown under pressure and Nikki Watts looped a header goalwards but Lucy Bronze was well placed to clear off the line.
Williams fired over from long range at the other end as Everton continued to dominate possession and territory and a moment of controversy prevented them from going two goals ahead. Fara Williams sent over a free kick into the area and Natasha Dowie headed back across goal for Jody Handley to nod in from close range. Everton celebrations were immediately cut short by an offside flag although the decision looked to be an unlucky one for the visitors.
Garcia forced a save from Brown with a shot on the turn but for Academy, the first half had been a disappointing one and Everton merited their lead at the break.
The rain began to get heavier and fell persistently throughout the second half but Academy upped their performance after the break. However they were finding it hard to break down a well drilled Everton defence in which Bronze and Greenwood excelled although it was their turn to have a goal disallowed, McCatty being penalised for a foul on Brown as she slid in on the keeper who had parried a shot from Watts.
The pressure on Everton began to increase and just as it looked as though they were coping well, a moment's slackness led to Academy levelling the scores. A free kick was intercepted by Fishlock and, with Everton on the back foot, Jaz Matthews slid a pass to Garcia on the edge of the area and she steered her shot beyond the dive of Brown and into the far corner.
Now Academy sensed a victory and, following good work down the right by Natasha Harding, Garcia saw a shot charged down by Lindsay Johnson and a strike by Angharad James was deflected narrowly over the bar.
Everton - three of whose side had been playing for England in Slovenia less than 48 hours earlier - began to look heavy legged and Academy won a series of corners during the later stages. They could not fashion a way through though as Everton stayed solid at the back and they passed up a good chance on the break as Dowie burst down the right and fired an angled shot over the bar with three team mates in the centre.
Michelle Hinnigan shot wide on the turn during injury time as the game petered out into a draw which leaves both sides still occupying the mid-table positions.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Grace McCatty, Loren Dykes, Corinne Yorston, Jemma Rose, Angharad James, Laura Del Rio Garcia, Nikki Watts, Ann Marie Heatherson (sub Jaz Matthews 52mins), Jessica Fishlock, Melissa Lawley (sub Natasha Harding 66mins). Subs not used: Ellie Curson, Ellie Isaac.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton (sub Brooke Chaplen 81mins), Alex Greenwood, Fara Williams, Lucy Bronze, Lindsay Johnson, Jody Handley (sub Gwennan Harries 66mins), Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Amy Kane (sub Michelle Hinnigan 86mins), Toni Duggan. Subs not used: Danielle Hill, Nikita Parris, Eartha Pond.
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