Early goals from striker Hannah Keryakoplis and midfielder Jade Moore were enough for David Parker’s side – but it could have been many more, with Blues striking the woodwork thrice.
The visitors made one change to the side which was knocked out of the FA Women’s Cup by Arsenal last time out, with Keryakoplis replacing striker Kirsty Linnett who was carrying a slight knock.
Parker had spoken about fatigue catching up with his side that day, but Blues looked sharp from the moment the game kicked off and dominated the early stages of possession.
Two goalmouth scrambles saw Karen Carney, Keryakoplis and Moore denied, before Blues took a deserved lead in the 7th minute. Chelsea Weston’s precise pass through the heart of the Villa defence set away Keryakoplis and she coolly poked the ball past the onrushing Caitlin Leach to score her first goal since moving from Stoke City in January.
Despite the advantage, Blues didn’t let off and the 13th minute was almost an unlucky one for the hosts when Carney, who put in a dazzling first-half display, drifted to the left flank to receive the ball before cutting inside and rifling an effort against Leach’s right-hand post from 25 yards.
Just a minute later, though, Blues’ lead was doubled. A loose pass out of the Villa defence was seized upon by Moore and the England international unleashed a 25-yard effort that swerved away from a helpless Leach and nestled into the top corner. It was a strike that capped off a marvellous week for Moore who, last Thursday, completed her first 90 minutes for the England national team and laid on a brilliant assist for former Blues striker Eni Aluko.
Two minutes later, Blues could have been in the ascendency when Jo Potter’s floated left-wing corner picked out Remi Allen at the back post; she nodded the ball back across and picked out Keryakoplis but she headed over from six yards.
Carney and Melissa Lawley both saw efforts blocked as Blues pressed for a third before the half-time interval. With one eye on Sunday’s FA WSL home fixture against Chelsea, Parker replaced Potter and Carney with Linnett and Emily Westwood at the break, but that did not disrupt Blues who picked up where they left off.
Three minutes into the second period, Blues should have had a third goal. Moore picked the ball up on the edge of the area following a spell of Blues possession and played Keryakoplis in down the right-hand side of the box, but the striker’s footing gave way as she lined up her effort and it skewed wide.
Linnett narrowly missed after trying her luck from 25 yards and Leach saved well after Lawley’s immaculate first touch set her up for a strike on goal. Blues’ superior talent was most evident when it came to controlling the ball and Allen soon followed Lawley’s lead, chesting a ball down and into the box as she pushed forward, but she fired just over.
Linnett then displayed her killer touch by plucking a pass out of the night sky following a ball from the defence – that put her through one-on-one with Leach, but she struck the foot of the post having beaten the Villa ‘keeper.
Substitute Kate Wilkinson then danced around three Villa defenders before seeing her effort blocked and she was denied again in the final minute when she struck the post having been played in by the marauding Weston, who had driven forward from the halfway line with a powerful run.
That would have added a gloss to the scoreline, but it was a comfortable win and, having had nine days without a game, proved the perfect warm-up for this weekend’s crucial clash.
Blues XI: Spencer; Weston, Mannion, Harrop, Carter; Moore, Potter (Westwood, 45); Carney (Linnett, 45), Allen, Lawley; Keryakoplis (Wilkinson, 68)
Subs: Sargeant, Simpkins, Baggaley, Torkildsen
Goals: Keryakoplis (7), Moore (14)
Aston Villa XI: Leach, Vaughan, Walker, McCue, Petrovic, Richards, Mayling, Moran, Davies (Baptiste, 78), Jones (Robinson, 63), Cusack (Fergusson, 72).
Subs: Courtney, Merrick, Baker, Fergusson, Stringer.
Bookings: Jones, McCue, Davies, Richards, Moran.
Referee: Amy Fearn