Preston North End 0:1 Leicester City
On a warm, sunny day in Lancashire, Leicester secured a play off berth much to the delight of the players and couple of thousand travelling fans with more fancy dress then you could shake a stick at!
Nigel Pearson gave Vaughan his first start and the returning Dyer replaced the injured Wellens.
City were slow to settle and looked nervy and off the pace at times whilst Preston lacked urgency and so a fairly tame first half unfolded save for one awful challenge by Wallace on Morrison for which the Preston player was booked but Morrison didn’t last until half time and was replaced by Solano before the break.
The goalmouth action was limited to a few chances at either end but Vaughan was guilty of wasting City’s best opening when an acrobatic effort by Hobbs was parried away by Lonergan and fell kindly to the on-loan youngster and Vaughan somehow put the ball in to the side netting from six yards. The main talking point at half time, however, was a disallowed goal from a drop ball. Play was stopped when Wallace needed treatment and the match restarted with a drop-ball on the halfway line which was unchallenged as the intent was clear that Gallagher should play the ball back to Lonergan in the Preston goal. Unfortunately Gallagher overhit his back pass which sailed over the off-guard keeper and in to the net. Referee Hegley then “bottled it” and ordered the drop ball to be taken again when clearly there was nothing actually wrong with the accidental goal. This time Gallagher’s back pass was caught just under the bar by the embarrassed Lonergan.
The second half saw a more urgent approach from City who stepped up their game and started to dictate the pattern more, especially in midfield. Waghorn was guilty of a horrendous miss after Gallagher had set him up with a perfect cross on to his toe but he skied his six yard shot over the bar. The goal wasn’t long in coming though when King picked up the ball on the halfway line in the 63rd minute and set off on a direct run to the edge of the Preston area where he was heavily challenged but he got up and won the ball back and planted a curling right foot shot past sub ‘keeper Henderson in to the bottom right hand corner. Cue pandemonium in the away end as suddenly it didn’t matter about scores elsewhere.
City should have increased their lead as first Waghorn and then Vaughan, failed to convert one-on-one chances when they were clean through. But by now Preston looked spent and City saw out the game comfortably as the defence once again did a magnificent job. The final whistle brought scenes of joy and the vocal City fans were rewarded as the players and management walked across to join in the party. It is a remarkable achievement to secure a play off spot at the first attempt back in the Championship and to go on and claim a Premier League place will be a big ask but as any Leicester fan knows, anything can happen in the play-offs…
Preston: Lonergan (Henderson 46), Ward, Jones, Davidson, St. Ledger, Williams, Ross Wallace, Treacy (Mellor 66), Mayor, James, Parkin (Brown 66). Subs Not Used: Hart, Mawene, Miller, Dougan.
Leicester: Weale, Brown, Berner, Hobbs, Morrison (Solano 36), King, Dyer (Adams 71), Spearing, Gallagher, Vaughan (N’Guessan 83), Waghorn. Subs Not Used: Logan, Bruce, Kermorgant, McGivern.
Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire). Attendance: 14,926.