Villa Ladies secured a 1-0 win at London Bees courtesy of a fine Livy Fergusson finish - but the scoreline really should have been more emphatic.
Winger Fergusson broke free on 49 minutes and produced a fine finish into the bottom left hand corner.
There were other chances too through Carly Davies, Katie Wilkinson and Emma Follis - and the claret and blues were terribly unlucky with a couple of penalty denials.
Wilkinson and Follis both appeared to have been pushed in the back in the box - but the referee waved away both appeals much to the consternation of the visiting coaching staff.
However, boss Ron Mellor and head coach Joe Hunt will have been satisfied with the performance throughout the 90 minutes, Villa Ladies dominating proceedings.
There could have been a sting in the tail in the closing moments, though, Sydney Hinchcliffe crashing a shot against the bar.
It would have been harsh on Mellor's team though, who showed a good mix of talent and tenacity.
Villa Ladies first chance came on seven minutes as Maisie Baker just couldn't quite get her head to a fine Chloe Jones corner.
Then on 22 minutes, Baker saw a long-range shot fly over the bar.
The same fate befell midfield schemers Maddy Cusack and Katy Moran on 28 minutes and 32 minutes respectively as they unloaded 25-yard efforts too high to trouble the hosts.
Davies was unlucky on the stroke of half-time as she ran on to a fine throughball from Wilkinson, only to see her shot well stopped.
Then just before the break, Wilkinson - on loan from Birmingham City Ladies - was equally unfortunate when her flicked header produced another impressive stop.
There was no panic at the break as Mellor and Hunt realised more of the same would lead to a breakthrough.
They were spot on four minutes after the restart as Fergusson beat the offside trap and kept her cool to fire home.
The visitors were very much in the ascendancy at this point and more goals should have followed as they turned the screw.
Davies broke down the right on 52 minutes but her dangerous cross missed everyone in the box.
On 56 minutes it was an almost identical scenario, Wilkinson's centre from the right eluding centre-half Jade Richards, who was ready to pounce.
Follis entered the fray on the hour mark - a welcome addition after her return from USA with Seattle Sounders.
And the talented winger added pace and grace to the action.
Follis showed verve on 65 minutes as she broke free down the middle and played in Davies.
Unfortunately the in-form striker was denied by the keeper.
Mayling was harshly booked on 68 minutes for an innocuous foul, much to the frustration of the bench - and they were even more unhappy three minutes later.
Wilkinson was pushed in the back in the box but the official waved away appeals.
It was more of the same on 75 minutes as Follis tumbled under pressure in the area - but again the referee refused to point to the spot.
Goalkeeper Natalie Courtney - deputising for the England ace Caitlin Leach - kept Villa Ladies in the lead on 76 minutes with a remarkable tip-over from Amber Gaylor.
Davies found herself through on goal on 86 minutes but, once again, she was denied by the keeper.
There was drama at the death as the home fans cheered what they thought was a goal but Hinchcliffe's strike cannoned off the bar and out of danger - much to the relief of Mellor and Hunt.
London Bees: Harris, Chappell, Hurley, Brooks, Howell, Gaylor, Loomes [Hinchcliffe 72], Mallett [c] [Scanlon 82], O'Leary, Cooper [Anderson 46], Nuttall. Unused subs: Rowlands, Herson, Davies, Samuels.
Villa Ladies: Courtney, Baker, Jones, Moran, Petrovic [c], Richards, Fergusson [Follis, 60], Cusack, Wilkinson [Baptiste 77], Mayling BOOKED [N'Dow 83], Davies BOOKED. Unused subs: Harper, Merrick, Beattie.