Reds Ladies FA Cup adventure ended at the first hurdle when they lost their Second Qualifying Round tie by the odd goal in nine.
“We can’t gift teams like Penrith four first half goals and expect to progress,” was manager Paul Mackenzie’s post-match reaction.
“The second half response was really positive but, sadly, we fell a bit short,” he added.
In a typical ‘game of two halves’, Penrith were the dominant force in the first and the tie looked over after the Blues established a 4-1 lead by the interval.
But Reds staged a brave recovery and almost saved the game in a nine-goal thriller.
Penrith started well and had already created a couple of chances before taking an eighth minute lead. Reds struggled to get a foothold in the game but did level the scores mid-way through the half with a well worked goal.
Morgan McGrady did well on the left and a fine cross was met by Bea Barber who equalised with a good finish.
But having battled to get back in the game, Reds immediately collapsed and conceded three more before the break. It got worse five minutes after the restart when Penrith were awarded a penalty which they converted to make it 5-1 in their favour.
To their credit, Reds threw caution to the wind and Hayley Bracken went close with two headers and a McGrady cross brushed the crossbar.
Penrith had Cara Dudson sent off with twenty minutes to go and that proved a turning point, almost.
Bracken reduced the arrears when she blasted home Reds second from close range and two further goals in the final ten minutes had the crowd believing the impossible was still on.
Liv Bennett and McGrady cut through the Penrith defence and the former eventually scored Reds’ third and the comeback was gathering momentum.
Bracken then converted from the penalty spot in the eighty-seventh minute but Penrith steadied the ship and saw out the remainder of the game without any further scares.
Reds lost the game in the first half, almost salvaged it in the second but had to settle for the loser’s cheque from the FAs prize fund.
Penrith’s goals were shared by Kayleigh Wharton (2), Jodi English, Abbie Forster and Sharina Robinson.
The two sides meet again next week in the league at Frenchfield.