RAHENY UNITED suffered heartbreak when they lost to Bristol Academy in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32 clash at Richmond Park. Two goals from Natasha Harding, a penalty from Nicola Watts and a header from Natalia Pablos Sanchon left the Continental Tyres Women’s National League champions an uphill task in the tie before a crowd of 1,248.

Raheny began the game well, dominating the early exchanges and went close with a few chances as Rachel Graham fired over and Siobhan Kileen was causing havoc on the left side. 

Niamh Reid Burke denied England International Natasha Harding, but there was little Burke could do when Harding outpaced the Raheny defence and Harding opened the scoring for the visitors. 

The game continued at a frantic pace, from end to end, but it was Bristol who were beginning to carve out clear chances. 

Into the second half and the pace of the game dropped considerably.  Bristol were comfortable on the ball and but for the heroics of Reid Burke coiuld've added to their solitary goal.   Bristol finally broke the deadlock when Reid Burke tipped a long range effort onto the bar, only to see Harding react quicker than the Raheny defence to tap into empty net.

Raheny tried their best to deny Bristol any further goals, and the introduction of Clare Shine added a spring in their step.  Katie McCabe limped off injured and the Panda's had to play out their final few minutes with only 10players having used all their subs.  Their semi-professional opponents took full advantage of the extra player and were ruthless despite the best efforts of Raheny goalkeeper Niamh Reid Burke who produced some excellent saves. Two final goals in the four minsute injury spell has created a mountain for Raheny to climb in the second leg next week. 


 Raheny United: Reid-Burke; Keenan (Dwyer 40), Slattery, Walsh, Conlon (O’Farrelly 80); Graham, Creagh; Sheehy (Shine 55), Murray, Killeen; McCabe.

 Bristol Academy: Earps; McCatty, Rose, Matthews, Dykes (Brown 88); Harding, James, Ingle, Yorston (Del Rio 78); Watts, Sanchon.

 Referee: Eleni Lampadariou (Greece).

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