Rachel Williams scored a dramatic 98th-minute equaliser as Manchester United earned a point against Brighton in the Women’s Super League.
United have become famed for scoring late goals and the striker has now scored four times when coming on as a substitute this season.
“It’s becoming a bit of a habit for me,” Williams told Sky Sports.
“I’m itching to get off the bench and help the team and it’s paid off. It’s all a bit of a blur, but I’ve got the goal again.”
Brighton had taken the lead after 30 minutes when Maisie Symonds found Elisabeth Terland, who calmly picked her spot to finish in the bottom corner past Mary Earps.
A magnificent strike from Ella Toone in the 78th minute levelled proceedings before Guro Bergsvand headed home in the last minute for Brighton, who thought they had won the three points.
But United fought until the very end and Williams took her chance off the bench to claim a crucial point, although United boss Marc Skinner said they were not happy with the result.
“We need to take three points. You create that amount of chances you have got to take them,” he told Sky Sports.
“We want to be better than that. It’s great that you come back but we shouldn’t have to come back. We created enough to scored five or six and we need to take accountability and be better than that.
“This is a big game and you have to have big character and you have to own it when you haven’t punished an opponent. They should be frustrated and I want to see that in action. I don’t want to see sulky faces, I want to see a reaction.”
The result left United in sixth place, one point off the top three while Brighton are ninth, four points clear of the drop zone.
Wasteful United stretch unbeaten run
United are now unbeaten in 12 WSL matches and their ability to stay in a game and believe they can get something from it, no matter the time on the clock, makes them a frightening prospect.
But it was a difficult game for Skinner’s side, who started well but could not convert their chances.
Brighton’s opener seemed to spark the visitors into life but they spurned chance after chance.
Brazilian striker Geyse hit the post, while Bergsvand’s last-ditch block stopped Melvine Malard finding Leah Galton who also headed over the bar herself.
United lacked a cutting edge and summer signing Geyse – tasked with replacing prolific England striker Alessia Russo, who left to join Arsenal – has yet to get off the mark.
Yet they were left wondering how they had not equalised at 1-0 when Brighton keeper Sophie Baggaley produced a sublime double save, first tipping Hannah Blundell’s long-range effort on to the bar before reacting quickly to foil Millie Turner in the goalmouth.
United boss Skinner said earlier in the week he could “guarantee” Toone would be back scoring goals and making assists soon, with the England forward having not registered a goal involvement before this encounter.
Her stunning curling effort from the edge of the area is sure to fill the attacking midfielder with confidence as she continues to build connections with the club’s summer arrivals.
A chaotic ending ensued after Bergsvand had restored Brighton’s lead as crucial saves were made and the woodwork was struck at both ends.
But Williams scoring with time running out has become a familiar story for United and once again she came to her side’s rescue.
Williams is United’s top scorer this season with four goals in five games, but she has not started any of those matches and said “that door is firmly locked”.
“I think I just have to keep doing what I’m doing in training and hopefully he’ll [Skinner] give me the chance. I’m here for the girls every week,” she added.
Missed opportunity for battling Brighton
Brighton’s players were visibly disappointed at full-time and will see this as an opportunity missed, but manager Melissa Phillips will take heart from her players’ perseverance and some moments of real quality.
The Seagulls looked dangerous going forward, Earps saved well from Jorelyn Carabali’s free header and Pauline Bremer smacked the crossbar from a tight angle when it seemed she was crossing the ball.
Brighton pushed hard to restore their lead after Toone’s equaliser, not content with a point.
But they have kept just one clean sheet in their last 31 games – a run going back to April 2022 – and tasted victory once so far this season.
They face another tough challenge next Sunday when they visit Manchester City, while United host West Ham.
- 22RobinsonSubstituted forSarriat 69′minutes
- 10OlmeBooked at 78minsSubstituted forRuleat 90+7′minutes
- 18SymondsSubstituted forLosadaat 56′minutes
- 21HaleySubstituted forLeeat 45′minutes
- 8BremerSubstituted forFerreira Pintoat 90+6′minutes
- 17Ferreira Pinto
Man Utd Women
- 14RiviereBooked at 57mins
- 4Le TissierBooked at 12mins
- 20MiyazawaSubstituted forWilliamsat 75′minutes
- 10ZelemBooked at 90mins
- 9MalardSubstituted forGarcíaat 75′minutes
- 23da Silva FerreiraSubstituted forParrisat 89′minutes
- Elizabeth Simms
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2, Manchester United Women 2.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2, Manchester United Women 2.
Attempt missed. Millie Turner (Manchester United Women) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Katie Zelem with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester United Women. Conceded by Maria Thorisdóttir.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2, Manchester United Women 2. Rachel Williams (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner following a corner.
Corner, Manchester United Women. Conceded by Guro Bergsvand.
Attempt missed. Millie Turner (Manchester United Women) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Millie Turner (Manchester United Women) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Nikita Parris with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Lucía García (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Charlize Rule replaces Julia Olme.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Tatiana Pinto replaces Pauline Bremer.
Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women) is shown the yellow card.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Lee Geum-Min (Brighton and Hove Albion Women).
Attempt missed. Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion Women 2, Manchester United Women 1. Guro Bergsvand (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) header from very close range to the top left corner. Assisted by Veatriki Sarri with a cross following a corner.
Substitution, Manchester United Women. Nikita Parris replaces Geyse Ferreira.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Conceded by Mary Earps.
Attempt saved. Veatriki Sarri (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Lee Geum-Min.
Attempt blocked. Rachel Williams (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Katie Zelem with a cross.