Danielle Carter scored twice and set up another as Brighton began life without Hope Powell by winning a nine-goal Women’s Super League thriller at West Ham.
Brighton led 3-1 and 5-2 but were forced to hold on by a late Hammers rally as they climbed two places to ninth courtesy of only a second win of the season.
Powell left Brighton this week, after five years in charge, following their dismal 8-0 home defeat by Tottenham and they again fell behind to Lisa Evans’ early cross-shot.
However, Carter pounced on Hammers goalkeeper Sophie Hillyerd’s poor touch to equalise and then turned provider to cross for Veatriki Sarri to slide Brighton in front.
Former Arsenal and England forward Carter made it 3-1 from the penalty spot after Grace Fisk tripped Julia Zigiotti Olme, only for Victoria Williams’ own goal to hand the Hammers a lifeline.
Cool finishes from Elisabeth Terland and Jorja Fox seemed to have sewn victory up for Brighton but Viviane Asseyi’s late double set up a frantic finale including almost 10 minutes of time added on.
They had a number of opportunities to salvage an unlikely point but Claudia Walker spurned the clearest chance, prodding wide after an error from Seagulls stopper Megan Walsh.
Walsh had been caught out by Evans’ third-minute effort that looped over her head but Carter then took control as Albion completed a quickfire turnaround with three goals in 12 minutes.
Hillyerd was at fault for two of them, gifting Carter the ball for the first and then spilling a cross in the lead-up to the penalty for the third, although she did make a fine save from Olme’s 20-yarder.
After the break, Williams diverted a deep free-kick into her own net under pressure to halve the Hammers’ deficit and then collided with Hillyerd at the other end in a worrying moment for the latter.
With no goalkeeper on the bench, Hillyerd was deemed fit to continue after a lengthy spell of treatment but conceded from the resulting corner as Terland was allowed time to hook home.
Fox drilled Brighton’s fifth into the bottom corner after Hillyerd parried a cross but Asseyi scored twice in two minutes with, first, her head and, then, her right foot from a pair of inviting Evans crosses.
However, the Hammers could not find an equaliser and slip to eighth, a place above Brighton, who move six points clear of the relegation place despite conceding 23 goals in their opening six games.
The result continued Brighton’s hold over the Hammers, having beaten them in each of their past five meetings, as well as winning four of their past five away at the Irons.
West Ham Women
- 2SmithSubstituted forWalkerat 83′minutes
- 10BrynjarsdóttirSubstituted forHousseinat 83′minutes
- 4StringerBooked at 61minsSubstituted forFlanneryat 76′minutes
- 19HayashiSubstituted forFilisat 45′minutesBooked at 53mins
- 20KyvagSubstituted forAtkinsonat 35′minutes
- 15GreenBooked at 59minsSubstituted forFoxat 69′minutes
- 18CarterSubstituted forBanceat 90′minutes
- 10OlmeBooked at 45mins
- 11TerlandSubstituted forParkat 90+4′minutes
Match ends, West Ham United Women 4, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 5.
Second Half ends, West Ham United Women 4, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 5.
Attempt missed. Viviane Asseyi (West Ham United Women) right footed shot from very close range misses to the right.
Attempt missed. Claudia Walker (West Ham United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Grace Fisk.
Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Emma Kullberg tries a through ball, but Libby Bance is caught offside.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Park Ye-Eun replaces Elisabeth Terland because of an injury.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Libby Bance replaces Danielle Carter.
Attempt missed. Danielle Carter (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.
Goal! West Ham United Women 4, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 5. Viviane Asseyi (West Ham United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lisa Evans.
Goal! West Ham United Women 3, Brighton and Hove Albion Women 5. Viviane Asseyi (West Ham United Women) header from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lisa Evans.
Substitution, West Ham United Women. Claudia Walker replaces Kirsty Smith.
Substitution, West Ham United Women. Halle Houssein replaces Dagny Brynjarsdóttir.
Attempt missed. Elisabeth Terland (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Julia Olme.
Elisabeth Terland (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Keira Flannery (West Ham United Women).
Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion Women. Veatriki Sarri tries a through ball, but Poppy Pattinson is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Danielle Carter (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Katie Robinson with a cross.
Foul by Julia Olme (Brighton and Hove Albion Women).
Melisa Filis (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Jorja Fox (Brighton and Hove Albion Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.