Captain Hinnigan says Oxford win was for Lindsay Johnson
Everton captain Michelle Hinnigan has paid tribute to retiring Blues Girls legend Lindsay Johnson.
Johnson, who announced her retirement from the game early on Sunday morning, spent twelve years as an Everton player after joining from Liverpool in 2003 and she marked her last appearance in Blue with a goal in the side’s 5-3 victory over Oxford United.
Speaking after Sunday afternoon’s fixture, the Blue Girls skipper Hinnigan said she was delighted to get all three points on the final day of the season adding that Johnson’s announcement made the victory all the more special.
“It’s brilliant to get the three points and finish third, that was our aim this season. We knew it was going to be difficult, we had some ups and downs but going into the game we all wanted it, especially for Johno playing in her last game."
The visitors made Everton work hard for their victory as they twice clawed back from a goal down following Simone Magill’s early equaliser, Channy Boye-Hlorkah and then Kelly Jones had put the Blue Girls ahead.
It wasn’t until Johnson’s thumping strike put Everton in front once more that the match seemed out of sight before Jess King wrapped up the win in injury time.
Hinnigan said: “The games we’ve played through the season we’ve always had a comeback in us and the spirit that the girls have got here is brilliant."
She continued: “We all fight and we don’t give in until the last minute and I think the performance at the end showed what this team is all about and it looks good for next season."
“Obviously we showed today we had all different goalscorers and Lindsay Johnson getting on the scoresheet was written in the stars but it was a fantastic win.”
The Blues captain has been with the club since a young age and she praised Johnson for her role in her football upbringing stating that, while she had helped her, several other players are also indebted to her for the experience she has passed on throughout her Everton career.
“She’s brilliant. From my time, I’ve been at the club eleven years, Johno has been there from the start. She’s been like a second Mum to me and she’s led me, Toni (Duggan), Nikita (Parris), Alex (Greenwood) and Gabby (George) and all the other younger ones and shown us the way.She’s been our mother figure in training. "
She joked: "I’m not going to miss her moaning in training!
"She’s a great character to have and everyone needs a Johno in their team and what a way to go out on.She’s been fantastic for the club and hopefully that’s not the last we see of her at the club. Hopefully she can stay involved somehow."
Hinnigan spoke alongside Johnson’s defensive counterpart Gabby George, who was also keen to appraise the outgoing Blues veteran.
“It’s been great playing alongside her, she has helped me a lot over the last two seasons, most of the stuff I’ve learnt has come from her.“
"Hopefully, I won’t copy her own goals or anything like that, but she really helped me a lot."
George, 18, who has been capped by England U19’s, is part of a young, talented crop at Everton and she believes that if the side can work hard and stick together then gaining promotion back to FA WSL1 next season will not be out of the question.
“We’ve got quite a lot of young players with international experience like Paige and Ellie so if we can all stick together and train hard then we should be able to go back up to WSL1 in the coming season.”