Report: West Ham 1 United Women 1
Manchester United Women were made to settle for a point after a stoppage-time equaliser saw the Reds draw 1-1 with West Ham in Wednesday evening's WSL clash.
Ella Toone's acrobatic effort in the 54th minute had given Marc Skinner's side a deserved lead at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, but the hosts would take a share of the spoils after Grace Fisk headed in off the post in stoppage time.
Despite the result, there was one positive for the Reds to take from the hard-fought contest, as January signing Jade Moore made her debut for the club having recovered from a serious knee injury suffered last year.
Honours even with the HammersGallery
See the best of the action shots from United's 1-1 draw with West Ham at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
In the pouring rain at Dagenham & Redbridge's home stadium, United had a golden opportunity to take the lead inside the opening three minutes, but Toone couldn't quite connect properly with Leah Galton's low pass along the ground.
The Reds' pair attempted to link up again minutes later, only for a smart sliding clearance from the hosts' Hawa Cissoko that stopped Toone placing Galton's flick past the goalkeeper into an empty net.
As a makeshift centre-back for the evening, skipper Katie Zelem had looked composed on the ball in a deeper area early on, but found herself in more familiar territory shortly after the half-hour mark; causing problems for the opposition defence with a flighted free-kick into the box that was eventually cleared.
Toone was then involved once more, fizzing a low effort along the drenched turf that took a strong hand from Irons keeper Mackenzie Arnold to keep out, with the ball cleared before Galton could fire home the rebound.
In the closing stages of the half, United's persistence was very nearly rewarded when Arnold appeared to fumble Martha Thomas's long-range effort onto the crossbar, but the goalkeeper would go on to collect it and ensure that the game stayed goalless going into the break.
It was nearly the perfect start to the second period for Skinner's side, as Alessia Russo was the latest to test the palms of Arnold in the West Ham goal, forcing a save from a fierce effort inside the opening 40 seconds of the half.
The home side, who had only lost once on their own turf in the league this season prior to the match, were forcing United to work hard for any kind of success in front of goal. Zelem was again attempting to improvise with her recently fruitful inswinging corners, before Toone powered a strike wide of the target after trying her luck from range.
Toone, who had been at the heart of United's push for an opener throughout the evening, finally got her goal on 54 minutes. Another corner from the captain was the source of it - despite it being initially cleared, Galton was able to keep the ball alive before our no.7 produced an acrobatic effort that was helped over the line by a deflection off Hammers captain Gilly Flaherty.
Quickly after the sheer delight of going in front, United had to be alert again to preserve the newly established advantage in the game, as the hosts enjoyed their best spell of the game so far, either side of the hour mark. First, Tameka Yallop lifted a first-time effort over the bar after connecting with a ball in from the right flank following a late dart into the box, before Katerina Svitkova worked some space and fired an attempt just wide of the target from around 25 yards out.
Yallop headed at Mary Earps moments later, before Skinner opted to try and reinforce our efforts at the back, by introducing Jade Moore from the bench in the 67th minute for her United debut.
The Reds looked to have navigated the final of the home side's attacks on goal when Svitkova headed narrowly wide as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time, but there was to be late heartbreak as Fisk nodded home a corner from the left, two minutes into the added-on period, to ensure that the encounter would be drawn at the final whistle.
West Ham: Arnold; Fisk, Cissoko, Flaherty (c); Svitkova, Brynjarsdottir, Stringer (Evans 69), Yallop, Longhurst; Hasegawa, Leon (Parker 90+5).
Substitutes not used: Leat, Wyne, Snerle, Walker, Filis, Joel, Houssein.
United: Earps; Blundell, Caldwell, Zelem (c), Batlle; Groenen, Boe Risa (Moore 67); Thomas (Hanson 90+4), Toone, Galton, Russo (Fuso 74).
Substitutes not used: Baggaley, Harris.
Booked: Flaherty 45+2 | Caldwell 6, Toone 89.
Scorers: Fisk 90+2 | Toone 54.