On the final home game of the 2022/23 WSL season, City were left frustrated by the Hammers, who picked up a win in the Midlands thanks to a goal in either half. A Sophie Howard own goal and Dagny Brynjarsdóttir's penalty was enough to dispatch the Foxes, even after a late injury time spot-kick from Cain.
There were three changes to the side beaten by Chelsea in the capital last time out, with defenders Howard and Ashleigh Plumptre coming in for Jemma Purfield and Josie Green, while Carrie Jones replaced Missy Goodwin in the front line.
City looked the more comfortable side early on, but it was the visitors who took the lead inside 20 minutes. On the counter-attack, a whipped in ball by wing-back Anouk Denton was deflected into the Leicester net by Howard, who was trying to prevent the cross entering the box.
Over the next 15 minutes, Leicester continued to probe the Hammers' defence, coming closest when a good piece of skill from Ruby Mace allowed the opportunity for a cross into the box which Cain directed goalwards, but Mackenzie Arnold got down to make the stop.
Pushing towards half-time, the chances kept coming for the Foxes, who were operating in a narrow 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Remy Siemsen supporting Cain up front. But it was defender Plumptre to come closest before the break, when a corner fell to the Nigerian international, who headed over at the back post.
The second half started in similar fashion, with the hosts dominating most of the ball, but failing to convert their chances. The first opportunity of the second period coming when a Cain cross was bouncing in the box and Manchester City loanee Mace sent a volley over the bar.
Unfortunately for the hosts, who looked a yard off the pace compared to their impressive performance against Liverpool, it was the Londoners who took a two-goal advantage when Brynjarsdóttir converted from the spot, after Howard was penalised for handball inside the penalty area.
With 15 minutes to go, Leicester were in again when substitute Shannon O'Brien was supplied the ball from Mace, but with the goal to aim at, the forward sliced her effort wide of the near post.
Over the final moments, the home side were handed further punishment when Mace was picked up a second yellow card in the game, but despite being reduced to 10 players, the Foxes did etch themselves onto the scoreline late on.
The referee awarded a penalty for Whelan being fouled in the box by the onrushing 'keeper, and Welsh forward Cain stepped up to fire her effort straight down the middle, with only seconds left.
With any form of late surge to draw level being dismissed by the visitors, the lack of cutting edge in front of goal resulted in the Foxes falling to defeat on home soil, and manager Willie Kirk will be hoping to rectify this issue quickly with only one match left to secure their WSL survival.
Major moment - Howard's own goal
Against the run of play, West Ham took the lead when a Anouk Denton cross deflected into the net off of the Scottish centre-half, and Leicester failed to get back into the game following this opening goal.
Where do we stand - 11th in the WSL
The Foxes remain 11th in the WSL, two points above Reading heading into the final game of the season.
Coming up - Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
Leicester finish their WSL campaign with a visit to south coast side Brighton & Hove Albion at Broadfield Stadium next weekend.
City: Leitzig; Bott (Goodwin 74'), Howard, Plumptre, Nevin; Mace, Whelan (C), Tierney, C. Jones; Siemsen (O'Brien 61'), Cain.
Subs not used: Lambourne, Levell, Smith, Purfield, Reavill, Pike, Robinson.
Goal: Cain (P) 90+9'.
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