West Ham United Ladies started their FA Women's Premier League Cup campaign with a thrilling 3-2 home defeat by Keynsham Town.
The Hammers recovered from two goals down, only to suffer late heartache as their Somerset-based opponents stole victory in the closing stages.
West Ham now face an uphill task to qualify from Group 3, with Mark Saunderson's side knowing they have to beat Cardiff City in November to have any chance of progressing.
Keynsham were gifted a perfect start at Ship Lane when the West Ham centre-backs allowed the ball to bounce between them from a long free-kick by the Keynsham goalkeeper. Julissa Rodriguez ran through unopposed and lifted the ball over the onrushing Toni-Anne Wayne and rolled the ball in to the empty net.
West Ham almost replied immediately but Hajrija Sabic saved Lily Mellors' effort. Despite continued attempts to break forward, defensive errors were still plaguing the West Ham defence.
The hosts were made to pay on the half-hour mark, as a failed attempt to play an offside trap led to a second Keynsham goal.
Leanne Lapham benefitted from the poor defending, firing a low shot in to the far corner of the goal after bring put through one on one with Wayne.
The hosts thought they had grabbed a goal back four minutes later when Lindsey Morgan netted after Stacey Little's initial effort had been saved. The offside flag, however, cut the home side's celebrations short and they went in at the break trailing 2-0.
Mel Abegglen was brought on at half-time for Jemma Beard and she was immediately involved in the action.
Abegglen's through ball to Natalie Crinean allowed the striker to play a reverse pass along the six-yard box for Mellors to score within minutes of the restart.
Keynsham could have restored their two-goal cushion minutes later, but Katie Bottom came to West Ham's rescue by clearing an effort off the line.
The momentum, though, was now with West Ham and it didn't take them long to find an equalising goal. Crinean went on a mazy run down the left and her cross was deflected in to her own goal by Keynsham defender Aimee Clark.
West Ham continued to apply pressure to the away goal but it was Keynsham who scored the decisive goal late on. Katarzyna Rusek fired a brilliant free-kick in to the top corner of Wayne's goal who, despite getting fingertips on to the shot, could not keep it out.
West Ham had a flurry of late chances as they pressed for a goal and they nearly levelled through Kelley Blanchflower. Wayne's long kick caught out the Keynsham back four who failed to track Blanchflower's run but she could only fire wide of Sabic's near post.
Blanchflower again found herself in front of goal minutes later but again couldn't find the target, shooting over the bar from 12 yards out.
The final chance for West Ham was also the most clear-cut. Good work down the right-hand side saw a chance created for substitute Cherrelle Albert. However, the striker failed to take the chance as her shot was deflected wide.
The Ladies will return to FA Women's Premier League Southern Division action on Sunday 29 September, when they travel to the Withdean Stadium to take on Brighton and Hove Albion.
Ladies: Wayne, Mellors, Kelly (King 80), Beard (Abegglen 46), Reed, Little, Morgan, Bottom, Crinean (Albert 79), Merritt, Blanchflower
*West Ham United Ladies' junior sides were also in action at the weekend, with spectacularly successful results being achieved by the all four teams.
The U17s scored a comfortable 8-0 win over Island Girls in their opening Essex County Girls League fixture. Despite that fine result, the U17s are looking to strengthen their squad for a challenging season ahead. Anyone interested should be in school years 11, 12 or 13. Please email WestHamLadiesJuniors@hotmail.co.uk detailing your football history including your playiong position.
The U15s romped to a 14-0 win over Corringham Cosmos in their Essex County Girls League opener. With Hannah Humphreys pulling the strings and Grace Hill (five) and Isabelle Wallings (four) supplying the finishes, the girls netted a constant stream of goals while remaining determined to keep a clean sheet at the other end. Hannah Humphreys (two), Shanice Taylor-Newsam, Imogen Bennett and Sindi Kanto also scored.
The U13s also went goal-crazy to secure a 9-1 Essex County Girls League victory over Tigers FC. Poppy Binding helped herself to a hat-trick, while Kelly Wealthall (two), Molly Bowness, Elizabeth Reid, Maddie O'Connor and Hannah Landen were also on the scoresheet.
Finally, the U11s were the weekend's top scorers, winning 15-1 against a gallant Little Thurrock Dynamos side.