Albion suffered a “reality check” as their winning start to the season was interrupted.

But they will not have much time to dwell on a 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa in FA WSL.

Any hopes they had of retaining top spot earned by two season-opening wins were forgotten as they struggled to create clear chances.

Villa upset their hosts’ passing, defended strongly and probably deserved the win secured by Emily Gielnik’s goal just after half-time.

Albion will use their squad against Charlton in the quarter-final of the FA Cup on Wednesday and must then prepare to visit WSL champions Chelsea on Saturday.

Albion boss Hope Powell told The Argus: “I said to the girls after the game how quickly things can change.

“You’re on a high, you’re top of the league.

“You win today, you’re top of the league again.

“That’s what we are striving for, to be better.

“But very quickly there’s a reality check.

“You lose a game and it’s like it has caved in a bit.

“We have got to do better, certainly against the teams who are around us, and we have got to make sure we perform consistently.

“The points in the bag are the points in the bag but you have got to get more points to keep striding ahead and we didn’t do that today.”

Emma Koivisto got a long way forward from full-back to open her account for the club with a header in the 5-0 win at Birmingham.

She twice got into similar positions in the first half here but was unable to make good contact on deliveries swinging in from the Albion right.

Rinsola Babajide forced a save from Hannah Hampton early on.

And Danielle Carter, who was busy in build-up play, skyed an ambitious attempt at a volley after Babajide got to the byline and pulled the ball back. Unbeaten Villa, though were hard to play through and had one or two dangerous moments of their own in the first half.

Megan Walsh had to move to her left to hold a shot fom Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and then came out to block as the home got into trouble at the back Koivisto headed clear from just in front of her own goal at a corner straight after half-time.

But Albion conceded for the first time this season on 47 minutes.

Gielnik got away in the inside left channel and expertly guided her shot across Walsh and inside the post.

Albion, who had introduced Megan Connolly in midfield at the break, struggled to threaten a riposte.

They sent on Lee Guem-min in attack and Kayleigh Green down the right.

Connolly’s free-kick delivered from near halfway found Aileen Whelan beyond the far post but she was having to stretch as she sent her header wide.

Ramona Petzelberger almost doubled the Villa lead going into the final 15 minutes as she shot over having been allowed too much room in the Albion penalty area.

Albion youngster Katie Robinson, sent on as a late sub down the left, showed some good footwork and also fired a shot straight at Hampton from the edge of the box.

The hosts piled players forward and Whelan could not get sufficient contact on a Green cross.

There were other balls sent long into the box - but not with the required quality as Albion’s bright start to the season came to an end.

Albion: Walsh; Le Tissier, Kerkdijk, Williams (Gibbons 90), Koivisto; Simpkins (Connolly 46), Whelan; Brazil (Green 67), Kaagman (Robinson 90), Babajida (Lee 62); Carter. Unused subs: Stenson, Bance, Arimoro, Nokuthula.