Hannah Cain's first half strike - her maiden Leicester goal - helped ensure the Foxes remain at the Championship's summit with six games to go, after a dominant display in Quorn.
City lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Millie Farrow partnering O'Brien up front, while Lachante Paul and Cain offered the width. And it was almost a perfect start for Leicester as an early chance fell to Farrow, who got through and was denied by Palace stopper Chloe Morgan from a tight angle.
Leicester kept up the pressure when Charlie Devlin went for goal from a free-kick positioned 30 yards from goal and saw her effort land narrowly wide of target. Another Devlin free-kick was soon met by debutant O'Brien, but this time Morgan was there to hold on to her header.
Sophie Howard, fresh from her international exploits with Scotland last week, then struck a fierce shot from distance that Morgan had to push away to her right, denying the defender a first Leicester goal.
The visitors were still well in the game at 0-0 and when Kate Natkiel pounced on a defensive error, she was unable to take advantage, lifting the ball over Kirstie Levell but also wide of goal, while Palace's top scorer Bianca Baptiste also saw an effort land just past the post.
Leicester were still doing the majority of the pressing, however, as Cain drove forward and fed Paul, who struck wide of goal shortly before Cain's own attempt was saved by Morgan.
The elusive goal finally arrived thanks to the creative spark of Paul, working space for a cross from the right that was superbly met by Cain to score her first goal for the Club with a sweetly struck half-volley.
Lizzie Waldie then fired a free-kick well over the bar, not able to take advantage of a rare opportunity for Palace to take a strike on goal.
Following some good build up play from the Foxes, Farrow's attempt was held by Morgan, before they went even closer via Esmee De Graaf, whose shot clipped the crossbar shortly before the break.
It was more of the same in the second half as City dominated the play. Cain went in search of her second early on, driving into the box before shooting wide of target. There was a similar outcome when Farrow got in behind the Palace defence and found the side-netting with her strike.
Natasha Flint replaced Farrow and almost made a telling contribution, getting to the byline and pulling the ball back for Paul, who fired over the bar.
At 1-0, that threat of a Palace equaliser remained and their best chance came once the ball bounced up for Amber Gaylor to strike well wide.
Another City substitute, Paige Bailey-Gayle, also made an impact, breaking away and seeing her shot deflect wide, before Howard headed the resulting corner off target.
Flint had her own sighting of goal when she struck a powerful shot from the edge of the area, which Morgan was equal to, before the forward's latest attempt went wide.
Devlin continued to provide a creative spark by weaving past a challenge before pulling the trigger and finding Morgan in the way once more.
There was still time for Plumptre's bullet header from a Sophie Barker corner to go agonisingly past the post, before she hit the frame of the goal in stoppage time from another set piece.
A powerful strike from Devlin then looked to be heading in, but for yet more good work from Palace's 'keeper to turn it behind and Leicester settled for the 1-0 scoreline and another crucial league victory.
Charlie Devlin & Hannah Cain
Hannah Cain celebrates with Charlie Devlin after finding the net for the first time in Leicester colours.
It's hard to look past the winning goal, coming on 36 minutes, which was crafted down the right-hand side by Lachante Paul, before Hannah Cain was on hand to turn it home, expertly finishing to net her first Leicester City goal on her home debut.
Debutant Shannon O'Brien was a constant threat for the hosts.
Shannon O'Brien put in a strong performance on her Foxes debut, leading the line alongside Millie Farrow and then Natasha Flint, making strong forward runs throughout the game and stretching the play in the second half.
Where does it leave us?
City created numerous second half chances and went close to finding the net for a second time.
City stay top of the FA Women's Championship standings and are level on 35 points with second-placed Durham, having played one game less than the north east club.
Lachante Paul provided the assist for Hannah Cain's first half strike.
Next up, LCFC Women travel to The Hive to face London Bees in the FA Women's Championship on Sunday 7 March (2pm GMT kick-off).
City: Levell; Howard, Tierney, Plumptre, De Graaf; Paul (Everett 88), Barker (c), Devlin, Cain (Bailey-Gayle 68); Farrow (Flint 61), O'Brien.
Subs not used: Harris, Allen, Cataldo, Riglar, Camwell, Fergusson.
Goal: Cain 36'
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