Leicester City 4:2 Ipswich Town
City ended the 2010-11 season in style with a 4-2 win over Ipswich on Saturday, leaving their fans wondering what might have been…
It was typical end of season fare, an afternoon when applause rang around the ground time and again and not just for the four goals. Alan Birchenall, on completing his 31st charity run was given a lifetime contract by the club, now immune to the whims of just-visiting cost-cutters who didn’t understand the role he playes and his invaluable link with players past.
Richie Wellens also got a warm ovation on receipt of his Player of the Season award, as did Aleksander Tunchev when he came on for Vitor on the half hour for his first decent spell on the field in many months.
City, with one change – Van Aanholt in for Mee – had a superb first half although it could have been different had Ipswich not wasted two early chances.
A slip-up from Vitor presented Norris with a one-on-one chance with Weale, but he missed the target.
Van Aanholt and Yakubu both went close as play raced from end to end in a lively opening, and then Weale produced a fine double save to prevent Connor and then Wickham giving the visitors the lead.
Instead, it was City who went ahead in the 26th minute, with Gallagher delivering a perfect cross from the left, met by the head of King at the far post for his 15th goal of the season.
City were then forced into two changes with Vassell and Vitor limping out of the action to be replaced by Kamara and Tunchev.
Tunchev came close to a glorious comeback but sent an acrobatic volley just over the bar.
The re-shuffled City side did extend their lead in the 41st minute, however, when Abe centred from the left, King struck the right hand post, and the rebound went straight to Yakubu who netted the 11th goal of his loan spell.
Just before the break the home fans were celebrating again as King crossed from the right and Abe found the bottom left hand corner with a sidefooter for his first City goal.
3-0 and crusing at the break, but some familiar defensive failings came back to haunt City in the second half
as the visitors came back to 3-2 with two goals in three minutes.
In the 68th minute Bruma handled while attempting to head away a corner and Leadbitter sent his spot kick low to Weale’s right.
In the 71st minute the away corner were conga-ing in delight after a suicidal back pass from Van Aanholt and a slip from Weale allowed Connor to make it 3-2.
Happily, any thoughts of a comeback were extinguished just moments later when brilliant work from Van Aanholt down the left – exchanging one-twos with Gallagher and Yakubu – saw him cross for King whose effort was saved by Fulop, but fell for Kamara to net from close in.
This was followed by a twenty man brawl after a poor challenge on Yakubu but only yellow cards were shown when peace was eventually restored.
Ipswich’s challenge was seen off this time and the remainder of the game was about fun in the sun for the two sets of fans with Ipswich becoming perhaps the first ever set of away fans to join in with the wave.
It was difficult not to get excited about next season at this stage. With a team that has often looked superb at home (not often enough away) there is clearly a solid base to be improved upon and a budget that should allow Sven Goran Eriksson to do the job. Even the new kit – unveiled in this match – has something about it that suggests ‘promotion’…
Sven was well aware of this season’s failings: “We need to build on the good stuff. Our team is good to watch with some brilliant passing and combinations but that is not good enough to get you promoted. If we did not make so many mistakes we would easily be in the play-offs. We have to do it better next season.”
Leicester: Weale, Vitor (Tunchev 30), Naughton, Van Aanholt, Bruma, King, Abe, Wellens (Oakley 77), Yakubu, Gallagher, Vassell (Kamara 27). Subs Not Used: Dyer, Moreno, Howard, Smith.
Ipswich: Fulop, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter, Kennedy, Healy, Martin (Peters 74), Norris, Edwards,Scotland (Carson 64), Wickham. Subs Not Used: Lee-Barrett, Brown, Murray, Drury, Civelli
Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorks). Attendance: 24,859.