Albion Women were knocked out of the Premier League Cup following a 2-0 defeat at Cardiff, despite a battling performance by Jay Lovett’s side.
The Seagulls were handed a difficult tie in the last-16 against the National Division side, and were only undone by two set-pieces.
The home side took the lead in the 26th minute when Nadia Lawrence met Kayleigh Green’s corner with a header from close range.
Albion responded well to the setback as they looked to get young debutant Cherelle Khassal on the ball, who saw her effort saved by Cardiff keeper Rhian Nokes.
But the Bluebirds always looked dangerous on the counter-attack, and Albion had to rely on keeper Charlotte Sole to make a stunning save to prevent a shot from nestling into the net just moments later.
Lovett’s side once again ventured forward, with Kim Stenning almost equalising but for a superb save by Nokes, who somehow managed to tip the forward’s looping shot away from danger.
Albion began the second half with a real urgency to level the scoreline as Lauren Cheshire delivered a dangerous ball into the path of Stenning, but the side’s top scorer could not latch onto it.
Then a lovely move involving Kirsty Barton and Sophie Perry saw the latter move into a good shooting position, but she fired wide of the target; before Catherine O’Hagan met Barton’s corner with a header, but Nicola Cousins cleared the danger.
Despite building Albion pressure, Kelly Aldridge nearly wrapped the game up with ten minutes left as she ran through one-on-one with Sole, but saw her effort go over the bar.
Stenning had another opportunity to equalise, but was once again denied by a quick reaction save by Nokes.
With time ticking away, Lovett brought on Lucy Somes in a last-ditch attempt to force extra time before Cardiff delivered the second fatal blow.
Faye Rabson was penalised for a challenge on the right and Eleanor Issac somehow managed to see her free-kick rise above Sole into the top left corner with 88 minutes on the clock.
Albion’s Premier League Cup run is now over for another season, as Cardiff go through to face holders Sunderland in the quarter-finals.
Manager Lovett told Seagulls.co.uk, “It was a very tough game against a team who play one league above us. The difference today was that they scored from two set-pieces, but in terms of open play, it was a very even game and we created more chances than them.
“Their keeper pulled off two fantastic saves and showed why she’s a Welsh international keeper. The result was disappointing, but there are plenty of positives to take.”
Albion: (4-4-2) Sole (GK); Cheshire, Ryan, Rabson, Boswell; Khassal (Somes 82), Agg, Barton, Perry; Stenning (Parks 90+3), O’Hagan. Subs not used: Mangan (GK), James.