Sunday afternoon and the time finally came for the Liverpool Women to face new rivals and old teammates in Manchester United for the first match of their season. Not even a league match but an opening match for the Continental Tyres Cup, at their somewhat home turf of Prenton Park. Everyone knew it would be tough and the Women did well to hold on until the dying minutes when former Red hero Alex Greenwood gave Lizzie Arnot the assist she needed to put United on top in the 83rd minute.
Neil Redfearn fielded eight brand new Liverpool players while Casey Stoney fielded five former Liverpool players when Manchester United came to visit Prenton Park and definitely fared better than that other United side on Sunday.
Liverpool started strong, nearly taking the lead early on when Satara Murray flew down the right flank and crossed to Leighanne Robe, who had her shot go just wide. Ex-Red Amy Turner very nearly kept Kirsty Linnett from scoring 27 minutes in with a late challenge, and then a cross from Murray came perfectly placed across the goal but with no one to follow through. Siobhan Chamberlain was truly tested by her former team throughout the first half.
New goalkeeper Anke Preuss was kept busy as well as United continued to push through Liverpool’s defenses. Preuss denied a pivotal free kick from Alex Greenwood and then just before halftime was able to stop Jessica Sigsworth from going clean through. The first half ended all square but either side could’ve had a couple goals if their keepers hadn’t been on top of things.
Redfearn made one change right at the half by bringing on Courtney Sweetman-Kirk for Linnett and the exchange proved to be a good injection of energy up front. The Reds continued their shooting efforts, with a pass from Laura Coombs finding Jess Clarke but her shot going over the bar. Four minutes later Sweetman-Kirk herself went clear to the goal only to have Chamberlain smother her effort easily.
Christie Murray proved invaluable with her vision and passing skills able to keep Liverpool knocking on United’s door throughout the second half, with Anke Preuss not called into action again until the 73rd minute to stop Leah Galton at close range. Leighanne Robe set up Clarke and Sweetman-Kirk but even that team up was unable to break through the defenses to make something happen.
Then a breakthrough came - but not the kind anyone wanted. At the 83rd minute Alex Greenwood came down the left flank, just as we’d all known her to do, with a beautiful cross finding Lizzie Arnot and Preuss unable to keep it from finding the net.
Liverpool continued to put up a fight following that, with Yana Daniels winning a free kick just outside the penalty area. Christie Murray stepped up to take it, beat Chamberlain, only to have the ball hit the post and roll away from the goal line. Even with added five minutes of stoppage time the Reds were unable to pull out a draw.
Frustrating and unlucky for our Red Women to start their group stage with a defeat to loads of former teammates, but they have a chance to make it right next against Durham in a month’s time.