Goals from Karen Carney and Emily Westwood were enough to give the hosts a crucial three points. Hannah George’s unfortunate own goal late on gave the visitors hope, but David Parker’s charges never looked like they would relinquish their advantage.
Parker made five changes from the side which was beaten 5-0 by the same opposition in the Continental Cup three days earlier, with Carney, Remi Allen, Kerys Harrop, Chelsea Weston and Jade Moore back into the starting line-up.
After playing the perfect hosts in the previous fixture, Blues came out of the blocks in quick fashion and showed the visitors the footballing ability that had eluded them beforehand.
The England duo of Carney and Moore created the hosts’ first opportunity after six minutes, with Carney’s corner finding her compatriot’s head six yards out, but Moore’s header trickled just wide.
That was a warning of what was to come as, in the 11th minute, Blues took the lead. Westwood did well to turn and get her shot off from the edge of the box, but she was fouled in the process. Consequently, Carney stepped up to whip an inch-perfect free-kick into the goal of former Blues ‘keeper Mary Earps, who had no chance of stopping the effort.
Going behind seemed to spark Bristol into life and they had chances to draw level through Jemma Rose, who nodded wide, and Pablos Sanchon, who saw her effort tipped around the post by Rebecca Spencer.
In truth, Bristol should have been level in the 22nd minute when Watts rose highest in the Blues box to meet a right-wing cross, but her header was straight at Spencer.
Moore, Westwood and Carney all tried to add to Blues’ lead, but the hosts went in to the break one goal to the good.
As the rain came down, the game suffered for the first ten minutes of the second period, but in the 55th minute, Blues found a ray of sunshine to make a rainbow appear over the Autotech Stadium.
Jo Potter latched on to a loose backpass and squared the ball to Westwood, who had the simplest of tasks when rolling the ball into an empty net.
A volley from Anghrad James had Spencer scrambling across her goal before the ball drifted wide and Carney had Earps worried with a speculative long-range effort that also went wide before the visitors got a route back into the game in the 72nd minute.
A free-kick delivered from the left-hand side was turned into her own net by George, who was unfortunate as her flicked header looped over Spencer and hit the underside of the crossbar before going in.
With seven minutes remaining, Blues almost restored their two-goal advantage with a clever free-kick routine. Carney and Potter were stood over a right-wing free-kick before Potter whipped a deep cross into the box which picked out a free Carney at the back post – unfortunately, the captain was unable to add to her earlier tally, though.
The visitors continued to press for an equalizer, but failed to create another meaningful chance as Blues got back to winning ways to consolidate their three-point lead at the table’s summit.
Blues starting XI: Spencer; Weston, Mannion, Harrop, George; Moore, Potter; Allen, Carney (c), Lawley; Westwood (Keryakoplis, 80).
Subs: Torkildsen, Stringer, Simpkins.
Bristol Academy starting XI: Earps, Dykers, Yorston (Matthews, 69), McCatty, Pablos Sanchon, Watts (Brown, 80), Del Rio, Ingle, James, Rose, Harding.
Subs: Vega Leandro, Windell, Cleverly