Crystal Palace 0:1 Leicester City
City reinforced their credentials as serious play-off contenders last night with a good win at Palace that became more nervy than it should have been before the final whistle brought welcome relief and the news that we are up to fourth.
City kept Solano at right back and Morrison and Hobbs resumed their central defensive partnership. There were no other changes. It was City who imposed themselves on this game from the off and dominated possession, creating danger whenever they came forward.
Dyer was particularly lively again and after good work down the left he set Berner up who crossed low to Gallagher at the far post who somehow missed from close in.
This early chance was followed by further pressure and goal attempts with Oakley’s volley bringing out the best from Speroni before Weale was called in to action to keep out a well struck effort by Andrew.
As half time approached and City kept up the pressure with some fluent football, Davis received a red card in an incident that managed to inflame everyone. A cross in to the Palace area had eluded Waghorn but as everyone’s eyes followed the ball, Davis planted an elbow in to Morrison’s head. This was seen by the linesman who alerted the referee and the red card duly followed. The drama then continued as City pleaded for a penalty. The ball was in play when the incident occurred and the ‘assault’ took place in the area so surely a penalty should be given?
Not so according to referee Tanner who was pursued by angry City players for a while.
Half time came just in time for everyone to calm down and it was City who continued to dominate possession as the second half got underway and Berner was put through for a shot that just cleared the bar. However, it was only a few minutes to wait before the inevitable breakthrough came. Following another good move, Waghorn had a ferocious shot saved by Speroni but the ball fell in to the path of Berner who slammed the rebound in to the net before being mobbed by his delighted team mates.
The goal was also the cue for confusion and mayhem in the away end where over a 1,000 City fans had made the journey south. No sooner had the ball hit the net than a flare was set off at the back of the stand. This prompted a swarm of stewards to descend on the area and a comedy moment ensued as they decided what to do with this flare and when one of south London’s finest decided to stamp on it, the surrounding fans were showered in sparks.
As calm returned City were looking to consolidate their lead and Gallagher nearly succeeded but Speroni was once again equal to his shot.
With half an hour remaining, Nigel Pearson took off Waghorn and replaced him with Howard and then Dyer who was replaced with N’Guessan. Waghorn was particularly displeased with this move and he threw his shirt down as he reached the dug out before storming off to the dressing rooms. The net effect of these substitutions was to blunt City’s attack and invite Palace back in to a match that should have been over for them.
This made for a nervous final twenty minutes as City were unable to keep the ball and were forced to do some desperate defending. Weale made one brilliant save from a Hill header as the minutes ticked away to cap off a confident, solid performance.
Full time brought relief for City in a match that they dominated for long periods but in the end could easily have conceded an equaliser.
The full time results made for happy reading with Swansea’s defeat pushing City up to 4th, and Forest and Coventry losing. With just ten matches remaining City are now 8 points clear of 7th place…
Palace: Speroni, Hill, Butterfield, Davis, Clyne (Lawrence 46), Ambrose (Scannell 79), Derry, Danns, Ertl, Andrew, Lee (Hills 46). Subs Not Used: Carle, John, Djilali, N’Diaye.
Leicester: Weale, Berner, Solano, Hobbs, Morrison, King, Oakley, Wellens, Dyer (N’Guessan 80), Gallagher (Adams 86), Waghorn (Howard 64). Subs Not Used: Logan, Kermorgant, Neilson, McGivern.
Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset). Attendance: 12,721.