By Joe Brewin at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies face an uphill task to reach the Women's Champions League final after Frankfurt snatched a late winner at Meadow Park on Sunday.
Ciara Grant’s header had cancelled out Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic’s second-half opener in an entertaining first leg, but Kerstin Garefrekes struck late on to ensure Frankfurt hold a valuable advantage ahead of next Saturday’s second leg in Germany.
Harvey named an experienced line-up to face the three-time winners with Alex Scott, Rachel Yankey, Katie Chapman and Jayne Ludlow all included.
Frankfurt, meanwhile, fielded experienced internationals Melanie Behringer, Saki Kumagi, Sandra Smisek and Jessica Landstrom.
Arsenal set about attempting to make their home advantage count and tested the water early on when Scott curled an effort into the hands of Desiree Schumann.
Harvey’s side made a bright start but struggled to force Schumann into a meaningful stop throughout the first period.
But, in a disjointed first half, captain Ludlow should have put the hosts ahead when she headed wide from Ellen White’s pinpoint cross from the right.
An increasingly animated Sven Kahlert had been frustrated with his side’s inability to keep the ball, although that proved difficult for both sides in adverse weather conditions at Meadow Park.
Scott called Schumann into action once more with an ambitious volley from the edge of the box, before White’s attempts to divert another Ludlow header goalwards were thwarted.
The visitors had probed in spells during the first period and went closest to breaking the deadlock when German international Behringer cracked a ferocious free-kick narrowly wide of Byrne’s left post.
Steph Houghton responded with a similarly fierce set-piece five minutes before the interval only to be denied by a fine stop from the 22-year-old Schumann.
Frankfurt began brightly after the break. The dangerous Behringer shot straight at Byrne three minutes in, before highly-rated Swiss striker Crnogorcevic shot wastefully wide inside the box.
An entertaining half was picking up pace and Arsenal enjoyed a useful opportunity of their own moments later when Ludlow hooked a half-volley wide after good work from Houghton.
But the German outfit did take the lead in the 64th minute. Crnogorcevic did not waste her third bite at the cherry, slotting home past Byrne for an all-important away goal.
Harvey’s side were not prepared to go down without a fight and, just four minutes later, they levelled when Grant nodded home at the back post from Houghton’s corner.
The goals had given the game a new lease of life and Arsenal were buoyed by their equaliser. Meanwhile the lively Crnogorcevic was at the centre of Frankfurt’s attacking threat but could not add to her solitary strike.
Harvey’s side were pushing for a crucial advantage to take into next Saturday’s second leg in Frankfurt but ultimately could not find a way through against the resilient visitors.
And, with the last kick of the game, Garefrekes ghosted in at the back post to ensure a cruel finale in Borehamwood.
Referee: Silvia Tea Spinelli (ITA)
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