All of the excitement of the new season was dampened a little bit by an opening match loss, as London City Lionesses came to Prenton Park to kick off the FA Women’s Championship season and the new campaign towards promotion. Fans also returned to Prenton Park to further push on the women
Matt Beard fielded an interesting lineup for his first official match back, with captain Niamh Fahey starting on the bench, and summer signings Charlotte Wardlaw and Leanne Kiernan getting debuts.
The Red Women committed early to a high pressing game, with the sound of the fans helping spur them on, but London City were organized defensively and made real chances hard to come by through the first half. As much as Liverpool did to make their visitors uncomfortable, they weren’t ever really able to convert as many as they could into that all important opening goal.
It took nearly twenty minutes for their first real chance to materialize, with Rachel Furness finding Kiernan with an angled cross in the area, but it went right into the hands of London City’s keeper, Shae Yanez.
Former Liverpool player (sob) Amy Rodgers took one of the best chances for the visitors, sending a corner deep towards the left post for Lily Agg to to get on, only for it to hit the post. This spurred the Lionesses on a little bit as they quickly took another chance, with Rodgers delivering a free kick to the box that landed nicely for Jamie-Lee Napier - only for her to send it wide.
(That kind of midfield delivery from Rodgers is going to be sorely missed in the Reds this season).
The first half ended goalless as Liverpool continued to try and thread their way through London City’s defenses, to no avail.
The second half reamined more of the same, as true goal scoring opportunities seemed hard to come by for both sides. Liverpool struggled to find a decent path for the ball into the final third, either above or below, and thankfully the Reds managed to deal with Amy Rodgers and co. in kind.
The only goal of the match came from the penalty spot half an hour into the second half. Leighanne Robe fouled Kenni Thompson in the box and the penalty found the bottom left corner just past Rachael Laws’ dive to put the visitors ahead. There’s a bit in this season of Ted Lasso about the British use of the word unlucky, and this moment reminded me of that - the Reds are currently unlucky.
Matt Beard took that opportunity to make a couple substitutions, bringing on another new signing in Carla Humphrey and Rianna Dean, joined by Ashley Hodson and Rhiannon Roberts.
Despite falling behind, the Reds continued to push, continued to keep trying to find that equalizer - Humphrey tried her luck from long range but it couldn’t find the net, and Roberts sent in a beautiful cross in stoppage time, only to have Harley Bennett of the Lionesses deal with it easily.
There willd efinitely be lots to learn from this opening match, but the only goal coming from a penalty should be heartening, rather than discouraging. This is essentially a brand new squad, again, under a brand new manager with his own style of play. All the preseason work leads to this moment, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s hope these dropped points don’t come back to bite us in the end.