A SECOND half brace from Rachel Williams saw Manchester United beat Southampton FC 3-1 to knock them out of the Women's FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.

Lexi Lloyd-Smith had drawn Saints level after Women's Euros winner Ella Toone gave United an early first-half lead.

Men's manager Russell Martin and his assistant Matt Gill were on hand to watch a valiant display in which Saints hit the post late on.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale made just one change from last Sunday’s defeat to Crystal Palace with Welsh international Alice Griffiths coming in for Sophia Pharoah.

Southampton’s only other game at the Silverlake this season ended in a 3-0 defeat to WSL Tottenham. This was an even tougher test.

Only one player in Manchester United’s starting lineup was not fully fledged international and they made their quality show from the start and were ahead on eight minutes through Toone.

The England international crashed in from the edge of the box, prompting cheers in both the home and away sections.

Saints were temporarily reduced to 10 players after the goal as Megan Collett had to get her knee strapped.

The 18 year old recovered and was on hand minutes later to dive in and block Leah Galton’s rebound shot after Nikita Parris struck the post.

The hosts were not outclassed by United in the first half and had moments of promise, but Marc Skinner’s side retained their danger on the break.

Spacey-Cale made an attacking change at the break, introducing Lloyd-Smith in place of the more defensive-minded Griffiths.

Collett, who signed her first professional contract this summer, continued her excellent game at right back and slid across the box to block Parris' close-range shot.

With 65 minutes on the clock, the hosts pulled level when substitute Lloyd-Smith's inswinging cross bypassed everyone in the box and hit the net. 

Southampton looked like adding a second soon after but England's Mary Earps twice denied Wilkinson.

On 75 minutes, Williams climbed highest to head past Kayla Rendell from close range to make Saints pay for those missed chances.

The Red Devils retook control of the game after their second and added a third goal in controversial circumstances.

Williams rose highest once more to head past Rendell, who did not think the ball had completely crossed the line.

The referee awarded the goal quickly before being surrounded by Saints players - many of whom were shaking their heads.

The Championship side rallied once more after conceding and were denied a penalty shout when they appealed for handball inside the box.

Luck was not on Southampton's side in injury time either - Lucia Kendall poked a shot onto the post and Milly Mott could not quite stretch to it.

Southampton FC: Rendell, Collett (Morris, 69'), Peake, Rafferty, Mott, Purfield, Griffiths (Lloyd-Smith, h-t), Kendall, Primus (Pharoah, 69'), Pike (Wynne, 89'), Wilkinson.

Unused subs: Haaland, Thompson, Kraft, Milne, Howard.

Manchester United: Earps, Blundell, Le Tissier, Turner (Mannion, 94'), Evans, Zelem, Naalsund (Guerrero, 64'), Malard (Williams, 64'), Toone (Ladd, 85'), Galton, Parris.

Unused subs: Tullis-Joyce, Aherne, Francis, Chadwick.

Attendance: 4,554

Goals: Toone 8', Lloyd-Smith 65', Williams 75'