Leicester City 2:2 Middlesbrough
A late Beckford goal rescued a point for City against Middlesbrough at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night in a game dominated by the antics of referee Gavin Ward.
Nigel Pearson, who was to end the night sitting in the stand, stuck with his current side with none of the four new faces making the starting line-up.
This seemed to be working fine when City took a 7th minute lead, after Nugent met a clever Wellens chip with his head to beat Steele at the far post.
However, ten minutes later Boro were back in the game when City’s defence – who hadn’t conceded in three games – allowed a slackly marked McDonald to rise at the far post and nod home a McMahon corner from the left.
Nugent and Gallagher both failed to keep shots down as the first half settled into a midfield war of attrition with the ref frustrating a small and shivering crowd with a series of poor decisions.
Beckford’s recent improvement continued and he went close on a couple of occasions, being denied by Steele.
An incident round the dug-out had the crowd straining for a view at the beginning of the second half, after which Nigel Pearson was conspicuous by his absence.
The second half saw City working hard to regain their lead despite constantly being frustrated by the officials, and it looked as though Nugent’s fierce shot had been blocked by Bates’ hand, but referee Ward waved play on.
He also waved play on again, when Delfouneso – on as sub with Drinkwater in the 62nd minute – was brought down in the box with the crowd now raging at him. Four City players were booked to Boro’s none as frustration threatened to boil over. Ward had missed an elbow on St Ledger and a two handed handball, yet appeared to be obssessed with stamping on the slightest bit of dissent.
City almost went ahead in the 75th minute when Schmeichel’s huge kick was nodded on by Nugent to Beckford who struck the underside of the bar with a fine effort, but it was Boro who took a 79th minute lead, a 25 yard free-kick from McMahon flying beyond Schmeichel’s reach.
The home crowd, led by Jobbers drum and L1, carried on with their spirited and raucous singing regardless and helped City find that equaliser.
In the 86th minute a wayward backpass was charged down by Beckford who found a narrow angle beautifully to trundle the ball along the goal line and in off the far post.
In the face of determined Boro side and a dreadful refereeing performance this was a hard won point.
Post-match, a livid Nigel Pearson revealed that referee Gavin Ward had barged into his dressing room and interrupted his team talk, which resulted in him being told: “…where to go.”
“If the FA have to get involved then I will be appealing, there’s no doubt about that,” Pearson said. “I can’t wait to see what happens. I don’t know what really happened. I was talking to my players and giving them instructions for the second half when I was rudely interrupted. I didn’t see who it was that barged into my dressing room but I told them to get out – and that may be a euphemism for what I actually said.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Mills, St Ledger, Konchesky, Gallagher (Drinkwater 62), Danns, Wellens (Howard 84), Dyer (Delfouneso 62), Nugent, Beckford. Unused Subs: Logan, Morgan.
Middlesbrough: Steele, McMahon, Hines, Bates, Hoyte, Haroun, Williams, Robson (Martin 69), Emnes (Thomson 69), Jutkiewicz, McDonald (Halliday 74). Unused Subs: Ripley, Bennett.
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey). Attendance: 20,512.