Cup joy for Ladies

West Ham United Ladies are through to the EON-sponsored FA Women's Cup fourth round following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Hammers set-up a home tie against Colchester United after Carly Roache's 42nd-minute goal saw them sneak past their FA Women's Premier League South rivals at Thurrock FC's Ship Lane.

Manager Julia Setford was delighted to return to winning ways after her side had lost back-to-back matches for the first time this season - a 2-1 League Cup quarter-final defeat at Leicester City being followed by a 2-0 home loss to title-chasing Keynsham Town.

"Brighton are a strong team and we always have a battle against them, but we kept the ball well which we hadn't been doing in the last couple of games," said Setford. "We played it around and really went at them and it was a good result for us.

"We just need to get back into our stride and that was a step forward for us on Sunday. We've started to give the ball away cheaply and were getting into bad habits, so we've gone through everything at training and worked through it as a team and identified some problems. The girls had some good input and we went from there and gained a good result on Sunday."

In defeating the Seagulls, West Ham also gained revenge for their 5-4 home league defeat by the same opponents back in November.

West Ham dominated the possession throughout the first half and had the advantage of the strong wind at their backs but had to wait until just before half-time to take the lead.

Gemma Shepherd went down the right wing before beating a defender and sliding a low cross along the edge of the six-yard box for Roache (pictured) to side-foot into the net.

Brighton came out after the break looking to find a way through the Hammers defence, but centre-backs Rosey Sullivan and Danica Revell were more than a match for the visiting strikers.

The defenders restricted the Brighton forwards to a few long-range efforts that goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne dealt with easily.

For West Ham, Nina Downham and Becky Merritt looked dangerous on the break, while Emma Thomas posed a threat with her speed down the right flank, but Setford's side could not score the second goal that would have allowed them to breathe more easily in the closing stages.

A few nail-biting minutes were endured towards the end, but West Ham held on with relative ease to reach the fourth round. There, West Ham will host Colchester on Sunday 27 February, with the winners joining seven other winners and the eight members of the newly-formed FA Women's Super League in the last-16.

Before then, Setford's team return to FA Women's Premier League South action this Sunday, when Gillingham are the visitors to Ship Lane. West Ham go into the weekend a point behind leaders Keynsham with eight league matches remaining.

The manager admitted that, while cup runs are a bonus, the league title remains the target of everyone at the club.

"The league has always been my priority - the No1 spot is all we want this year. It's nice to do well in the cups, reaching the quarters in the League Cup, the next round of the FA Cup and also the semi-final of the FA Cup. To be in this position is great, but it is the league for us."

Kick-off on Sunday is at 2pm.

Kick-off on Sunday is at 2pm.