West Ham United Ladies' promotion hopes suffered a decisive blow as they succumbed to a 3-2 FA Women's Premier League Southern Division defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

West Ham travelled to the Withdean Stadium knowing a victory was the only result that would keep them in with an outside chance of overhauling leaders Millwall Lionesses.

It was looking good for the Hammers when goals from Becky Merritt and April Bowers put the visitors 2-1 up nine minutes after halftime. Earlier, they had fallen behind to a 29th-minute goal from Brighton's Lily Agg.

However, the Seagulls launched a stirring comeback of their own as Agg equalised just after the hour-mark before Cherelle Khassal netted the winner for the home side with 16 minutes remaining.

Defeat on the south coast means West Ham can no longer catch Millwall, as they are 15 points adrift of the Lionneses with just four games still to play. Millwall have just two matches remaining.

The Hammers return to action on Sunday, when they make the short trip to face local rivals Colchester United, with kick-off at Shrub End Community Sports Centre at 2pm.