A fiercely competitive first match for Manchester United Women against local rivals Liverpool saw the Reds seal a historic victory in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup clash at Prenton Park, thanks to Lizzie Arnot's 83rd-minute goal.
The knockout cup competition, comprising four groups of five or six clubs split geographically, saw United – who will play in the FA Women’s Championship this season – take on Neil Redfearn’s FA Women’s Super League outfit.
An end-to-end match, which had plenty of opportunities for both sides, culminated in a memorable victory for the Reds thanks to Arnot's 83rd-minute winner. Alex Greenwood, a constant threat down the left, put a cross on a plate for someone to tap in, and Arnot duly obliged.
The first-ever goal for United WomenVideo
Casey Stoney’s side dominated the first 20 minutes with early chances falling for former Hibernian winger Arnot and Jess Sigsworth, but both efforts went just wide.
Siobhan Chamberlain was rarely troubled in the first half despite Liverpool’s high pressing. Calm under pressure, United’s defensive unit played out from the back whenever possible.
Set-pieces looked as though they may prove pivotal; Katie Zelem and Greenwood the providers from free-kicks and corners as United pushed for the opener. Amy Turner failed to get a toe on Zelem’s tempting free-kick and Sigsworth, unmarked in the box, headed just wide from Greenwood’s corner.
England full-back Greenwood then stung the palms of Liverpool goalkeeper Preuss with an excellent free-kick, before Arnot played in Sigsworth. Last season’s FA WSL 2 top scorer saw her low drive again saved by Preuss, as the sides went in level at half-time.
Liverpool grew into the game after the break, though; Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, on at half-time, came quickly into the action, trying her luck from range but her shot sailed just over the bar.
Leah Galton, returning to England having played in the US and in Germany with Bayern Munich, replaced Hanson just before the hour mark and could have scored United’s first goal. One-on-one after good work from Sigsworth on the edge of the area, the ball fell kindly for the 24-year-old, but Preuss again came out on top.
Shortly after, it was Chamberlain’s turn to impress one-on-one; the former Liverpool goalkeeper making an excellent low save to her left from Sweetman-Kirk’s effort.
Arnot’s winner came after a sustained period of Liverpool pressure and the home side nearly responded immediately. Christie Murray’s low freekick beat Chamberlain but rattled the post, skimmed along the line and away.
History makers Gallery
Club photographer Ashley Donelon captured all of the colour from United Women's competitive debut.
United held on for a historic victory, and manager Stoney was delighted with the character shown by the team:
“I’m really pleased with the three points but at the same time we know we can play better.
“These girls have put an absolute shift in for six weeks after being thrown together. To go out there and dig deep, to show a bit of character was really pleasing.
“When it was backs against the wall, we stayed calm. We created some really good opportunities, we just need to finish them.
“It was a great ball in from Alex and when you get numbers in the box you’ll get goals.”
United Women: Chamberlain; Smith, A. Turner, M. Turner, Greenwood; Green (Toone 45), Zelem, James (Devlin 89); Arnot, Sigsworth, Hanson (Galton 59).