Everton Ladies hit the front early but ultimately fell to a frustrating 3-1 defeat against Birmingham City Women at Southport FC.
Birthday girl Inessa Kaagman got Willie Kirk’s side off to the perfect start inside nine minutes, but the visitors struck back seconds later, before Ellen White’s double either side of half-time handed Birmingham all three points.
The Blue Girls impressed for large portions of the match, but the key moments seemed to go the way of the visitors.
Kirk made three changes to the side that lost to Yeovil Town Ladies with Emma Brownlie, Megan Finnigan and Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah coming in for Elise Hughes, Gabby George and Georgia Brougham, the latter pair missing out due to injury.
Everton looked dangerous early on and deservedly took the lead in the eighth minute thanks to Kaagman. Taylor Hinds found herself in space on the right wing and picked out Kaagman with her driven cross, the Dutch international lashing in to the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Marta Tejedor’s team struck back almost immediately however. Seconds after Kaagman’s opener, the ball bounced kindly for Hayley Ladd, whose half volley from the edge of the box gave Blues stopper Kirstie Levell no chance.
Birmingham produced a decisive second 11 minutes before the break. Ladd’s corner from the left was knocked down into the path of White and the forward pounced to slot the ball home.
Kirk’s side came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and almost equalised in the 53rd minute. The impressive Boye-Hlorkah was inches away from being played in on the righthand side but couldn't quite get on the end of Kaagman's delivery after a neat exchange between the Dutch star and Simone Magill.
White grabbed her second and Birmingham's third in the 67th minute, taking the match away from the hosts. The Blues were undone by another corner from Ladd, with White this time heading home at the near post.
Everton were given a lifeline 17 minutes from time when the referee blew for a penalty after Aoife Mannion was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box, but Kaagman’s spot-kick was saved by the impressive Hampton.
The Blue Girls had late chance to get themselves back into the match when substitute Hannah Cain was played through one-on-one with Hampton but her shot was straight at the Birmingham stopper.
Kirk’s side will be disappointed after an industrious performance ended in defeat but will now look to dust themselves off quickly ahead of Sunday’s match at WSL leaders Arsenal.