Hull City 0:1 Leicester City
Leicester City returned to winning ways on the road and ended a run of four straight defeats away from home, with a convincing 1-0 win at the KC Stadium. The cloud to this particular silver lining was an injury to Greg Cunningham that has ended his season.
Sven made three changes to the side that lost so badly at Millwall three days earlier with Chris Weale replacing Kirkland and Yuki Abe and Darius Vassell starting in place of Oakley and Bednar. City started well and dominated the early stages; Vassell was put through in the 3rd minute following excellent work between Cunningham and Wellens but his effort was off target when he looked certain to score. It was not long before Vassell made amends though, when he got on to the end of a superb, floated cross the far post by Wellens and volleyed the ball in off the underside of the bar to give City an 11th minute lead. It was an excellent finish and a glimpse of what we know Vassell is capable of. City built on this excellent start and should have increased their lead when Gallagher and Dyer both wasted excellent opportunities.
It was half an hour before Hull had a decent effort on goal when Stewart brought a good save from Weale who had been underemployed up to that point. Indeed, a clear sign that Leicester were completely dominant at this stage was the 37th minute substitution which saw Devitt replaced by Aaron Maclean (making his debut) as Nigel Pearson attempted to change the pattern of the game. We have seen this before this season at Barnsley and Leeds when Robins and Grayson respectively, made first half changes as they sought to fathom how to compete with Leicester.
The second half saw Leicester pick up where they left off but the score was never increased as chances came and went with Gallagher coming closest with a shot from the edge of the area that missed by a coat of paint. As Leicester became happy to contain and frustrate Hull the game became less of a spectacle but the large travelling City contingent didn’t care. The same travelling contingent witnessed a horror show on the hour when Rosenior and Cunningham closed in on a loose ball; Cunningham go there first and as he nicked the ball away Rosenior arrived late and took him off at the ankles. It was clear immediately that it was serious and Cunningham left the field on a stretcher. Rosenior, quite rightly, was shown a straight red card and despite his dramatic protestations there really could be no argument.
As the match wore on Hull at last started to show some fight and even had a goal disallowed when the ball was bundled in to the net but so was Chris Weale and it was an easy decision to chalk the goal off. The remainder of the game was played out with City denying Hull space and possession and despite 8 minutes of stoppage time the result was not in doubt.
This was a much-needed win and, just as importantly, a decent performance on the road from a City side that has lacked the appetite for a fight away from home recently. It means that City begin 2011 in 13th place but only 3 points off of a play off spot.
As a footnote to this game it is worth summing up the transfer and loan activity that has already reached a rapid pace of development: Matt Fryatt has left City to re-join Nigel Pearson at Hull, Sol Bamba seems certain to sign permanently from Hibs, Michael Morrison is still being linked with Sheffield Wednesday but nothing concrete has happened yet, defender Ben Mee has arrived on loan from Man City in a deal that will keep him here until May, City are also after Michael Johnson (22 year old midfielder) from Man City. It also has to be hoped that Sven is looking to address City’s lack of a consistent goalscorer if they are to press on and challenge for a play off spot.