SAINTS women boss Marieanne Spacey-Cale revealed she was “proud” of her side’s performance as they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United in the FA Cup.

The visitors took the lead at the Silverlake Stadium through Ella Toone’s fine strike, before Saints dug in to make sure they stayed in the game going into the second half.

Substitute Lexi Lloyd-Smith equalised with 25 minutes left to give the south coast club hope of a memorable cup upset, but United scored two in the closing stages to progress in the competition.

Spacey-Cale was pleased with the players for taking her instructions on board throughout the game to give them a chance of a second-half comeback.

“I thought we were outstanding," she told the Daily Echo. "I’m really proud of the performance for different reasons but they have given everything today. We’ve gone toe to toe.

“In the first half, we had to deal with a lot of pressure but defensively we looked really strong once we’d solved a couple of problems that they were giving us.

“The information that the players took on board during the game was really important. They delivered that first half.

“Coming in 1-0 down, we were still in it. We thought we had a great opportunity to raise the energy levels and really work hard.”

Spacey-Cale claimed her side put United under “pressure” in the second half but it was ultimately not enough to overcome Marc Skinner’s side.

She continued: “They responded to the change at half time and I thought we were absolutely superb with and without the ball.

“We produced some really good football and we put them under a lot of pressure.

“The one thing we wanted from the girls in the second half was workrate and to make sure we stayed in the game.

“When it went to 1-1, you could see the energy driving through them. I’m proud of the way that they’ve dealt with a top WSL club.”