Liverpool 1-1 Durham: Late Beth Hepple equaliser earns Wildcats draw at Prenton Park
(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool held to a 1-1 home draw against Durham in the opening weekend of the new FA Women's Championship season at Prenton Park.

  • Story of the game

Lee Sanders’ Durham showed the Reds no respect from minute one and looked the much better side for the majority of the first half but failed to convert any of their early chances.

The high press approach from the away side soon became their downfall as they looked lethargic and fatigued towards the end of the first 45.

Five minutes from the interval, Jepson’s Reds capitalised as Rinsola Babajide played an inch perfect ball over the Durham defence to find Rachel Furness who drilled her effort across goal to give Liverpool the lead against the run of play, bagging her fifth goal in as many games for the Reds.

On the 70th minute mark, Durham had their first real chance of the game as they worked the ball down the right and found substitute Molly Sharpe in front of goal, but her effort was held well by Rachel Laws in between the sticks for the Reds.

After pushing all game and being forced to play with 10 players following Iris Achterhof's injury, Durham finally grabbed their goal as captain Beth Hepple clipped her shot over the head of a stranded Laws who could do nothing but watch the ball nestle into the top left corner.

  • Key takeaway from the match

Rushed Liverpool

The Reds started the game poorly and struggled to get hold of the ball as Sanders’ rigid Durham side forced mistake after mistake in the first half of play.

Whether it was a ball into the channel or a throw in, everything felt rushed and it wasn’t until Furness’ opening goal that Jepson’s side looked much more relaxed in possession.

Having been relegated last season winning only once in 12 games, this Liverpool squad aren’t accustomed to taking the lead in games so that may have played a part in the rushed nature of their play during the first half.

Now playing in the second tier, there will be an expectation that the Reds bounce back and record win after win as they look to return back to the WSL in the first time of asking.

  • Player of the Match

Beth Hepple (Durham)

The Durham skipper looked superb today and provided the calming influence for the visitors in what will be one of their tougher away trips this term. 

Her voice filled out an empty Prenton Park as she barked out order after order to organise her side.

As performances go, it was as solid as you can get your captain. Her late equaliser was throughly deserved and puts the North East side in good stead  as they chase that sole WSL promotion place.

  • What's next for Liverpool?

The Reds travel to the capital on Sunday afternoon to face Lee Burch’s London Bees. The game will mark the first time the two sides have ever met each other in a competitive fixture.

  • What's next for Durham?

Lee Sanders’ side host Lewes at New Ferens Park on Sundays 12:00 kick-off in their second FA Championship game of the new season. The Wildcats faced Simon Parker’s side in December of last year, beating the Rookettes 3-0 courtesy of goals from Abby Holmes, Lisa Robetson and Beth Hepple.

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