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Everton Ladies, 1998-99

Everton Ladies are the reigning Champions of the FA Women's Premier League
But they failed to retain the title this season.



Everton reached the final of the Women's Premier League Cup, but Goals from Ciari Grant, Rachel Yankey and Marieanne Spacey earned Arsenal their fifth trophy win with a 3-1 victory over at Prenton Park on 28 March 1999. Tina Mason had given Everton an early lead.
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Last season, Everton could do no wrong.

Back in May they were crowned Premiership champions, beaten only once all season, having finally broken the Nineties dominance of the Arsenal/Doncaster Belles/Croydon axis.

Yet midway through this season, the script could not be more different. Currently seventh, with just two wins in eight games, manager Keith Marley has conceded that his side have precious little chance of maintaining the National Division title.

"We have got to be realistic. With the season we've had so far it's very unlikely that we are going to hold on to the championship. I guess as champs we're there to be shot at and morale has been low at the club. The key thing now is to settle every one down and concentrate on the two cup competitions," said Marley.

On Sunday January 12, Everton were to take on Wembley Mill Hill at Marine FC in the fourth round of the AXA FA Women's Cup.  But the match was postponed.

Recently, Everton have looked confident enough, giving Blyth Spartans Kestrels a 5-0 trouncing in the third round of the AXA FA Premier League Cup. Goals by Ceryl Jones, Jackie Bertie, Tina Mason and Cathy Gore, plus a cruel deflection off Blyth's Melanie Reay, sealed the victory.

Everton now face rivals Tranmere in the semi-finals on January 24, after the disqualification of Garswood Saints for failing to complete their third round fixture.

It is Tranmere, of course, under the stewardship of Steve Williams, who have been the real Merseyside force nationally this season. Currently fourth, with five wins from seven games, they inflicted a humiliating 4-0 defeat on Marley's women in their last league fixture of 1998.

Marley is hoping Everton will at least match last year's League Cup run when they reached the semi-finals, only to be beaten 2-0 by Croydon. But he is all too aware of the threat that dark horses Tranmere pose.

"When we played them two weeks ago they were quite simply the better side. They've had a good season but believe me even if they were bottom of the league they would still always up for a game against us. They don't need much motivation!"

Everton were also severely embarrassed by the 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of underdogs Ilkeston at the close of last year. But Marley, who took over from long-serving manager Billy Jackson at the beginning of the season, insists he cannot pinpoint why his side is having such a tough time of it this time around.

"Even though our squad is a lot tighter and more focused than last year, we've had a few bad results and I can't really say what the problem is. We also realise that because we're the reigning champions other clubs step up their game when playing us," he added.


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