A spirited Southampton side fell short to Women's Super League giants Manchester United, exiting the FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat.
 
The first-ever meeting between the two teams definitely didn't disappoint, with super sub Rachel Williams the hero for United, securing a brace and the win for the visitors.
 
Fellow substitute Lexi Lloyd-Smith reduced the deficit for Southampton after a first-half Ella Toone rocket gifted United the lead.
 
To reach Round Five of the FA Cup, Southampton reigned victorious over fellow south-coast side Portsmouth, before securing a 2-0 victory over Sunderland, courtesy of a brace from the clinical Katie Wilkinson.
 
Last year's finalists Manchester United entered the competition in the previous round, defeating Step Three's Newcastle United with Ella Toone, Nikita Parris, Rachel Williams, and Melvine Malard, all on the scoresheet.
 
Marieanne Spacey-Cale, the Saints manager, traded Sophia Pharoah for Alice Griffiths following last week's 2-1 league loss against Crystal Palace.
 
Marc Skinner also selected a similar side to the starting lineup that secured a 2-0 victory over Brighton, with Gemma Evans selected to replace the injured Jayde Riviere and Leah Galton chosen over Geyse.
  • Story of the match

 
After early bouts of pressure from both sides, the first real opportunity fell to Lisa Naalsund with her long driven shot, comfortable for Kayla Rendell in goal.
 
Despite battling hard in the opening exchanges, Saints lost possession on the edge of the area, leaving Ella Toone to pounce on a loose ball,  firing home a rocket and firing United into the lead, within the first 10 minutes.
 
A clever ball from Leah Galton, allowed the goalscorer Toone to build momentum from the left channel, with her eventual cross collected by Rendell.
 
Following 20 minutes of action, United almost doubled their lead as the in-form Nikita Parris' shot deflected off the post and into the path of teammate Galton however, the heroic Megan Collett denied the visitors once again.
 
In the 33rd minute, United was awarded a freekick on the edge of the area however, captain Katie Zelem's effort was wide of the near post.
 
Just moments later, the hosts were also gifted a freekick in an attacking area, with Griffiths' half-volley cleared by the Women's Super League giants.
 
As United mounted another dangerous attack from the left channel through Galton, who had been instrumental to every move, 20-year-old Milly Mott cleared the cross, just wide of the Saints' goal.
 
To conclude the first-half, another Zelem freekick was claimed by Maya Le Tissier outside the box, with her lofted attempt at goal into the safe hands of the Saints keeper.
 
Southampton made a singular change during the break, introducing Lexi Lloyd-Smith and replacing Alice Griffiths.
 
The first opportunity of the second half fell to the hosts, as Jemma Purfield's long freekick reached the head of Atlanta Primus, although comfortably saved by Mary Earps for her first of the game.
 
Southampton's number 23, Megan Collett, continued to showcase her defensive duties, tracking Naalsund and making a vital block.
 
Parris, keen to continue her shooting success, attempted to drill her effort past Rendell although unsuccessful on this occasion, before Wilkinson and Molly Pike combined at the other end for the hosts, with Earps untested from the move.
 
With Pike consistently making runs and seeking service, Wilkinson played a delightful through ball however, the experienced Earps was quick off her line.
 
Following another save from Rendell after a Parris shot, the Saints provided a rocket of their own, with substitute Lexi Lloyd Smith's long-range strike the equaliser, leaving Earps static between the sticks.
 
Marc Skinner promptly responded with a double substitution, welcoming Rachel Williams and Irene Guerrero in place of Malvard and Naalsund. Marieanne Spacey-Cale soon followed suit, introducing Ella Morris and Sophia Pharoah for Collett and Primus.
 
With momentum shifting in Southampton's favour, Earps was forced into another couple of saves, courtesy of a Pike header and a Wilkinson long-range strike. 
 
In the 75th minute, Rachel Williams reinforced her status as a super substitute for the Red Devils, heading home following a cross from the left, leaving the Saints trailing for the second time this game.
 
After waved away penalty calls inside the United box, young defender Mott was booked for an accidental foul inside the opposite attacking third, with the visitors unable to capitalise on the subsequent freekick.
 
With 10 minutes remaining, Williams further extended United's lead following a scramble in the box, with the goal strongly contested by the Saints, debating if the ball crossed the line.
 
Despite trailing by two goals, the south-coast side continued to attack, with Purfield's strike appearing to catch Evans' hand, yet play continued and protests quickly ended.
 
As the game entered added time, Southampton battled to the end, nearly scoring a second after Kendall's effort deflected off the post and Mott was unable to poke it home.
 
A sold-out Silverlake Stadium of 4,554 witnessed an exciting FA Cup tie, with the Saints producing a spirited performance against last year's finalists.
 
  • Player of the match - Rachel Williams 

Manchester United's second-half substitute turned the tie on its head following a spell of Southampton pressure, producing a brace to secure the victory and earning the title 'super sub', which is often used to describe the Red Devils' attacker.

Despite conceding three goals, Kayla Rendell was superb throughout the game in commanding her box and pulling off plenty of saves to reduce the deficit.

 
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