Four debuts were handed out to Abbie McManus, Georgia Brougham, Molly Pike and Jess Sigsworth as the visiting Foxes shaped up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Hannah Cain and Paige Bailey-Gayle acting as wing-backs, providing the width on either flank.
Following an even opening few minutes, City seized the initiative with a series of opportunities to break the deadlock. First up, Natasha Flint moved the ball onto her left foot and forced Villa’s debutant shot-stopper Hannah Hampton to tip her fierce strike over the bar, before collecting the resulting corner.
Cain then teed up Flint from a long range free-kick, but it was struck well off target, before Sigsworth delivered the next shot - and again Hampton was equal to her low drive.
Another chance came and went as Cain picked out the unmarked Sam Tierney in the middle, but she was unable to divert her header towards goal.
At the other end, Alisha Lehmann raced towards the penalty box, setting up Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, who saw her shot blocked, and winger Lehmann then had the ball in the net. The offside flag, however, had long been raised before former Fox Remi Allen slid the ball across the box to the Swiss international.
City, though, were getting closer to breaking the deadlock when Flint swung a left boot at the ball from 25 yards out, and it was heading for the top corner until Hampton got a strong hand to it.
Shannon O’Brien was the next Leicester player to drag a shot wide, before the away side finally had lift-off six minutes from the break. It was yet another left-footed effort from Flint and this time Hampton was unable to keep it out as it squirmed between her gloves and trickled into the back of the net.
Villa searched for an equaliser in first-half stoppage time, when Olivia McLoughlin failed to trouble Kirstie Levell from long range and Boye-Hlorkah had her header blocked in the box.
Both sides looked to get on the front foot in the opening stages of the second half, as Sigsworth muscled her way through to get a shot away, only for Hampton to thwart her once more, turning the ball behind.
Then, just after the hour-mark, the game turned on its head. Villa found a route back into the contest via a sublime free-kick from Sarah Mayling, who managed to direct it straight into the top corner.
And then, a minute later, former Allen got on the end of Lehmann’s cross to totally change the outlook of the final 30 minutes. Flint fired over the bar as Leicester searched for a route back, but the chances dried up.
However, in stoppage time, Brougham found space on the right, delivering a low cross towards substitute Lachante Paul, but a last-ditch block in the six-yard box diverted the ball behind and prevented City taking the point that their performance deserved.
Forward Natasha Flint celebrates after breaking the deadlock on 39 minutes.
Leicester had controlled the game for large parts, but once Sarah Mayling’s free-kick hit the back of the net, it completely changed the momentum of the encounter. The visitors lost their rhythm and quickly conceded a second goal, but can take plenty of positives from the all-round showing.
Abbie McManus prevents Villa striker Shania Hayles turning away during the second half.
A calming presence in defence, it was an assured Leicester City debut from the experienced Abbie McManus, who played in the middle of a back three, taking the captain’s armband in the second half following Sophie Barker’s half-time departure. The team will be disappointed with the manner of the goals conceded, particularly the second, which came so soon after Villa’s equaliser.
Where does it leave us?
Shannon O'Brien made her top-flight debut in the clash with Villa.
LCFC Women currently sit 10th in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table midway through matchday one, with three further fixtures still to come over the weekend.
The Foxes were unable to find another goal during the second half at Banks's Stadium.
The Foxes are straight back in WSL action on Sunday 12 September (2pm BST kick-off), facing Manchester United in their top-flight home debut at King Power Stadium.
City: Levell, Tierney, McManus, Brougham, Barker (c) (Devlin 46'), Cain (Paul 79'), Pike, O’Brien, Bailey-Gayle (Howard 60'), Flint, Sigsworth.
Subs not used: Lambourne, De Graaf, Plumptre, Purfield, Smith.
Goal: Flint 39’.
All times BST.
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