Bristol Academy are on the brink of relegation after two Karen Carney penalties helped Women's Super League rivals Birmingham City move five points clear of danger with two games left.
Teenager Sophie Baggaley made a low save to deny Bristol's Jade Boho Sayo before Mel Lawley beat Mary Earps at the other end on 38 minutes.
Carney made it 2-0 from the spot shortly after Hannah Short handled.
Carney picked herself up to net again after she was brought down by Short.
Caroline Weir twice hit the bar for Bristol after the break.
With a superior goal difference, a point from their last two matches would be enough for Blues to secure their top-flight status.
England Women's manager Mark Sampson was in the stands to watch as the club he twice took to the FA Cup final and guided into the Champions League with a second-place finish in the league in 2013 slumped to a costly home defeat.
Blues' 18-year-old keeper Baggaley, called upon following Beckey Spencer's season-ending knee injury, showed great composure throughout, smothering the ball in a goalmouth scramble as Bristol looked to hit-back before the break.
She also saved well from Christie Murray after the break.
Bristol Academy: Earps, Brummel (Popadinova 71) Short, Ladd (Lawrence 71) Ingle, Weir, Dykes, James, Fantom-Brown, Murray, Boho Sayo (Passariello 80)
Substitutes not used: Reid, Townsend, Pinto, Evans
Birmingham City Ladies: Baggaley, Carter, Mannion, Harrop, Allen (Peplow 83) Linnett (Wellings 90), Carney (Ayisi 90) Potter, Lawley, Westwood, Windell
Substitutes not used: Sargeant, Edwards, Torkildsen, Haines
Referee: Richard Martin