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Leicester lose out in opening night thriller

Arsenal 4:3 Leicester City

1718 arsenal away c

Despite twice taking the lead, City went home with nothing from a thrilling season curtain-raiser at the Emirates, suffering a late collapse and losing 4-3 to Arsenal…

The last City player to score a winner at Arsenal was Mike Stringfellow, in 1973, so this trip is always made more in hope than expectation.
With Huth, Iborra and Drinkwater ruled out through injury, and Iheanacho not quite up to match fitness, it was difficult to argue with Craig Shakespeare’s first starting line-up of the season. Maguire made his debut in defence, and James started his first game for City in over two years.
However, less than two minutes into the 2017-18 season City found themselves a goal down. Elneny curled a cross into the area, and an unmarked Lacazette had time and space to direct a header past Scmeichel from ten yards.
But City responded well and were level just three minutes later. Albrighton swung in a cross from the left, Maguire nodded it back across from the goalline and Okazaki leapt the highest to head past Cech from close in.
In a lively opening spell there were chances for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Vardy as play swept from end to end.
A good passing move from Arsenal then ended with Welbeck having a goalbound shot blocked by Maguire.
Arsenal had the upper hand by this stage and threatened again when Kolasinac fired in a shot which Schmeichel tipped away at the near post.
But it was City who took a 29th minute lead with a classic break. Albrighton hared down the left and delivered a cross into the goalmouth, which Vardy sidefooted home from four yards, having slipped between two defenders.

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City pressed forward again, and this time it was Fuchs who delivered a good cross from the left, Okazaki going inches wide with his header.
Loud appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Mike Dean who recognised that Kolasinac had been a yard away when he struck the ball at Ndidi’s arm.
But City didn’t make it to half time with their lead. After a scramble on the edge of the area Arsenal passed their way through City’s back line, but with the entire City defence appealing for offside, Kolasinac squared for Welbeck who steered the ball past Schmeichel from close range with seconds of the half remaining.

The second half started in more pedestrian fashion than the first, and City created the first real chance when a good ball forward from Mahrez saw Vardy outpacing two defenders, but Cech had timed his run well to come out and sweep up.
Vardy didn’t have long to wait for his second goal of the season, as City regained the lead in the 56th minute. Mahrez delivered a corner from the right and Vardy took advantage of slack marking to rise and direct a header in at the far post.

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Arsenal began to press forward and Schmeichel blocked a long range effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain and then smothered an effort from Bellerin at his near post.
The pressure then increased when Arsene Wenger introduced  Ramsey and Giroud to the action. Ramsey immediatley went close with a header, under pressure from Fuchs.
Craig Shakespeare made his first change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Amartey for Okazaki, before Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain both sent shots narrowly wide of the left hand post.
City were fighting a rearguard action, which Shakespeare attempted to relieve by bringing on Iheanacho for James, to give City more presence up front. But it appeared to backfire with the home side equalising in the 83rd minute.
A blatant handball from Ozil wasn’t seen by the referee and from the resulting corner Ramsey was allowed too much space on the right and had time to line up a shot past Schmeichel to level the game.
Worse was to follow two minutes later when Arsenal went ahead, Giroud winning a battle with Maguire to head home from a corner.
It was a heart-breaker for City and their followers, and despite throwing everything forward in five minutes of time added on, they couldn’t find a way through.

The winless run away to Arsenal now stretches to 44 years, but there was plenty to be optimistic about with this performance.

Craig Shakerspeare commented:  “We spoke about being compact and being a threat with the pace of Vardy. We executed that well. We’re disappointed to score three and come away with a defeat.”

Arsenal: Cech, Holding (Giroud 67), Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerín, Elneny (Ramsey 67), Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Welbeck (Walcott 75), Lacazette.
Subs Not Used: Ospina, Iwobi, Mustafi, Coquelin.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, James (Iheanacho 82), Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 88), Okazaki (Amartey 72), Vardy.
Substitutes: Chilwell, King, Hamer, Slimani.

Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 59,387.


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Arsenal Jinx Continues for Leicester

Arsenal 1:0 Leicester City

1617 arsenal away a

Arsenal made it ten home league wins in a row against Leicester, with a bit of outrageous fortune at the Emirates on Wednesday night…

Craig Shakepeare made a couple of changes for a fixture that hasn’t yielded a point for City since 1994-95, with Huth in for Morgan and Ulloa replacing Okazaki up front.
And they got off to a decent start against a hesitant looking Arsenal, carving out the first chance of the game in the 7th minute. Albrighton pounced on a wayward ball from Sanchez and nudged a ball inside for Vardy, but his shot found the side-netting.
Arsenal’s first real chance arrived on the quarter hour when Schmeichel had to be sharp to tip a well-struck Coquelin strike round the post.
The game settled into a pattern of City sitting back and Arsenal unable to do much with their possession, but the the visitors should have gone ahead in the 22nd minute.
A Fuchs long-throw sat up nicely for Mahrez but his thumping volley from 8 yards was too close to Cech who reacted very well to tip it over the bar

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Arsenal were struggling to make a dent in City’s backline, until Walcott burst into life in the 27th minute and jinked his way past a couple of challenges before prodding a chance to the near post which Schmeichel blocked.
From the resulting corner Fuchs produced an agile hooked clearance to deny Monreal a tap in.

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City were now pinned in their own half, but Arsenal’s final ball was still letting them down and the crowd’s frustration grew.
There was a near miss for each side before the break. Mahrez  beat Gabriel, but fired his shot wide, while Sanchez out ran Simpson along the 18 yard line, before launching a dipping shot against the crossbar.

The second half brought an early chance for Ndidi from a Fuchs throw, but he couldn’t get enough on his header to trouble Cech.
At the other end Huth produced a fine saving tackle to deny Sanchez a great chance from a Bellerin through ball.
A  Xhaka shot then deflected off Huth, but Schmeichel managed to adjust in time to save.
City continued to frustrate their hosts, Koscielny got his head to a corner but sent it straight at Schmeichel.
Then both managers opted to change things. Shakespeare brought Okazaki on for Ulloa, while Arsene Wenger introduced Welbeck, and then Giroud and Ramsey.
City had a good chance in the 76th minute when Okazaki teed up Vardy inside the area, but he was off balance and sent a tame shot at Cech.
A minute later City went close again, Okazaki closing in on goal down the right before Gabriel managed to get in the way and block him five yards out.
Arsenal began to up the pressure, desperately seeking a winner, but City appeared to be fairly comfortable at the back… until the 86th minute.
There didn’t appear to be much danger from a Monreal shot that was heading well wide, before it glanced off Huth’s chest and span into the bottom right hand corner.
It was cruel luck for City, who pressed forward in search of a late equaliser.

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Tempers became frayed in time added on as Sanchez stood directly in front of Fuchs as he attempted a long throw. Referee Mike Jones didn’t force him back the two yards and Fuchs eventually bounced the ball off Sanchez’s shoulder. He went down clutching his face, but thankfully Jones booked the Chilean, rather than Fuchs who was already on a yellow. He also awarded a fre-kick, which led to a scramble in the Arsenal area which was eventually cleared.
That was City’s last chance, and for the tenth time in a row they came home from Arsenal pointless.

Craig Shakespeare summed up: “We had to show a lot of different attributes today, defend, put our bodies on the line, which I think we did for 85 minutes, but lady luck wasn’t with us, losing to a deflected shot. To not come away with a point, having put in that type of resilient performance, was disappointing.”

Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerín, Coquelin (Ramsey 75), Xhaka, Gibbs (Welbeck 68), Walcott (Giroud 75), Özil, Sánchez. Subs Not Used: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Martinez, Elneny
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, (Gray), Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Vardy, Ulloa (Okazaki 70). Subs Not Used: Chilwell, Musa, King, Amartey, Zieler.
Referee: M Jones. Attendance: 59,829.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.


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Leicester and Arsenal draw a blank

Leicester City 0:0 Arsenal

1617 arsenal home a

Last year’s 1st and 2nd placed teams cancelled each other at the KPS on Saturday evening, though City had a stonewall penalty denied them in the 88th minute…

Claudio Ranieri made four changes to his starting line-up with Huth, Mendy, Okazaki and Albrighton in for Hernandez, King, Gray and Musa.
The City team were greeted onto the field by another superb Union FS tifo display, declaring ‘Champions of England’.

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Arsenal started well, and Sanchez and Cazorla both had shots blocked early on.
After a further spell of Arsenal possession without much threat, Morgan got a vital touch to a Bellerin cross with Walcott waiting to pounce in front of goal.
In the 26th minute Oxlade-Chamberlain made space for himself, cutting in from the left before curling a decent effort inches wide of the right hand post.
At the other end Vardy showed a burst of pace that set Albrighton up, but his cross was cleared.
On the half hour Cazorla delivered a free-kick from the left wing which beat everyone and was heading for the top right hand corner before Schmeichel tipped it over.
Three minutes before the break the home crowd were roaring for a penalty.
A cleverly angled ball from Mahrez sent Vardy in on goal down the right. Cech was out smartly to block, and the loose ball fell to  Drinkwater who appeared to be tripped by Koscielny, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.
Goalless at the break.

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Although no subs were introduced for the second half, Ranieri was soon forced into a change when Mendy went over awkwardly on his ankle. After some treatment the debutante tried to carry on, but it was immediately clear that he couldn’t and he was replaced by King.
City were the better side at this stage, and Mahrez went past Coquelin with a brilliant stepover but was crudely brought down. Clattenburg didn’t deem the offence worthy of a second yellow and Mahrez’s curling free-kick brushed the crossbar.
Bellerin then sent a long range effort straight at Schmeichel.
The 67th minute saw City’s second substitution, with Okazaki, who had run himself into the ground, replaced by Ulloa.
City continued to press forward: Albrighton tackled Xhaka and sent Vardy in down the right. He bore down on goal but fired wide under pressure from Koscielny.
Gunners sub Ozil then beat Fuchs with a neat swivel down the right, but Walcott’s shot didn’t test Schmeichel.
Ozil’s introduction turned the game in Arsenal’s favour, with too much activity round City’s goalmouth for comfort, but sterling work from Simpson and Morgan kept them at bay.

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The game turned again on a City substitution, when Musa came on for Albrighton and injected new momentum into the game.
He did enough the seal the points with two minutes to go, racing past Bellerin down the left and heading for goal before the defender tripped him from behind. It was as clear a penalty as you could ever hope to see, but Clattenburg, with a clear view of the incident, inexplicably waved play on.
There was one more chance for City in time added on, when Mahrez capped a fine run with a shot saved by Cech. The rebound didn’t quite fall to Musa, who hesitated too long and the chance was gone.

This was a great improvement on last week’s performance and only Mark Clattenburg knows why City didn’t get a late chance to claim three points from the penalty spot.
Typically Ranieri refused to place the blame elsewhere:
“I am not a manger who says: ‘That was a penalty,’ that is crying. For me it is OK, the referee made a very good performance and for me a penalty is when the referee whistles. He didn’t whistle, so it wasn’t. They kept more possession. They were very dangerous, but not with the clear chance. We kept less possession, but we know this. But we created a lot more clear chances to win the match. It was unlucky. But I am very happy for our spirit, for the union of the team.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mendy (King 53), Drinkwater, Mahrez, Albrighton (Musa 86), Okazaki (Ulloa 67), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hernandez, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Walcott, Sanchez, Xhaka (Wilshere 73), Cazorla (Ozil 73), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud 78). Subs Not Used: Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers, Elneny.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 32,008.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Jamie Vardy pledges future to Leicester City

Jamie Vardy will not be going to Arsenal, or anywhere else, this summer. LCFC.com broke the good news this morning with a brief statement:

vardy new contract

“Leicester City have today (Thursday) agreed with the representatives of Jamie Vardy to extend the England international’s contract with the Premier League champions for a further four years. Both parties hope that this announcement will end recent speculation regarding Jamie’s future and confirm his long term commitment to Leicester City Football Club.”

An Arsenal bid activated a release clause in his contract, just three days before the 29 year old departed for Euro 2016, with the Gunners thought to be offering him £120,000 a week.
It is thought that Leicester have upped his weekly wage to £100,000 to hang on to one of their hottest properties.

Hopefully this will be an example that will be followed by Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and anyone else the big clubs come knocking for.

PHOTO: Simon Kimber


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Last minute agony for Leicester at the Emirates

Arsenal 2:1 Leicester City

2015-16 arsenal away a

Ten-man City came within seconds of earning a point at the Emirates on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri was able to name an unchanged side for the the fifth game running, for this top of the table clash at Arsenal on Sunday.
There was an early spell of pressure for the Gunners which ended with Sanchez sending the ball narrowly wide from an Oxlade-Chamberlain corner.
City, chiefly though the work of the fantastic Kanté, then got a grip of proceedings. The quarter hour mark saw chances at both ends. Ramsey looked favourite to reach a through ball before Schmeichel came haring out of his goal, like a purple streak, to win the race and clear. City pressed forward and Albrighton chipped into the area where Vardy beat Koscielny in the air, but Cech got down smartly to save his downward header on the line.
Play continued to move from end to end  – Giroud had a shot blocked by Morgan, and then  Kanté delivered a curling shot that was clawed away by Cech.
Morgan, perhaps having one of his finest games in a Leicester shirt, then blocked a Sanchez effort, before Giroud headed narrowly over from a corner.
Giroud’s next header found the net, but the linesman’s flag for offside curtailed the home fans’ celebrations.

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A minute before the break City delighted their followers taking the lead from the penalty spot. With the Arsenal fans appealing for a foul by Morgan on Ozil (something they had done for most of the half), City broke swiftly forward. Referee Atkinson waved play on after Kanté was floored and then Vardy burst into the penalty area where Monreal blocked his progress. The ref pointed to the spot and Vardy rattled the spot-kick home, sending Cech the wrong way.

The second half began in the same high-octane fashion as the first, and a key moment soon arrived. Simpson was booked for no more than a failure to get out of Sanchez’s way. The Chilean waved an imaginary yellow card and the ref obliged.
Mahrez then went over in the box after being clipped by Monreal’s knee, but play was waved on.
The moment that would change the game arrived in the 54th minute. In an Arsenal attack down the right, Simpson pulled Giroud back by the arm. It was more of a yellow card than the first, and City were down to ten men.
Ranieri reorganised, bringing Wasilewski on for Mahrez, but not before the departing Algerian international was violently shoved with both hands by Coquelin. The referee took no action, though it was worse than either of Simpson’s offences.
Under increasing pressure City held out until the 70th minute. A Bellerin cross was nodded down by Giroud for substitute Walcott, who nipped in sharply to beat Schimeichel and level the game.
City’s ten men put in a Titanic effort in the closing stages, as chances for Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud, Mertesacker and Welbeck came and went. It was unrelenting pressure with only one more chance on the break for City, which Vardy fired straight at Cech.
As City saw out the four minutes of time added on, Schmeichel continuing to defy Arsenal’s string of chances, it looked as though they had earned a vital point.
But then Wasilewski committed a needless foul 30 yards out. Ozil delivered a precise free-kick into the danger area and substitute Welbeck, sent a glancing header beyond Schmeichel’s reach to give Arsenal the victory with seconds to go.
It was a cruel way to go down, and Arsenal’s gamesmanship may have left a sour taste in the mouth, but City remained in top spot and could only learn from this experience.

Claudio Ranieri was not impressed: “I am very angry. An international referee gives two yellow cards for normal fouls and the match was full of fouls. In the second half maybe it was because the crowd pushed the referee a lot and put him under pressure. You make one yellow card and you have to stay calm – my players, but also the referee. The draw should have been the real result. There was four minutes extra time signalled and it was five minutes extra time when they scored. But it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. We continue to fight. I am very proud of my players. They put on a fantastic performance.”

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny (Chambers 46), Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin (Walcott 61), Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Welbeck 83), Sanchez, Giroud. Subs Not Used: Ospina, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (King 82), Mahrez (Wasilewski 58), Okazaki (Gray 61), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Dyer, Ulloa.

Referee: M Atkinson. Attendance: 60,009.


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Leicester out-gunned by Arsenal

Leicester City 2:5 Arsenal

2015-16 arsenal home c

City’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of an impressive Arsenal side at the KPS on Saturday afternoon…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his starting XI with Albrighton in for Inler.
Arsenal made a worryingly easy breakthrough early on but Ramsey’s shot was blocked by Huth and Cazorla’s follow-up saw a well placed De Laet clearing off the goal line.
City than had a couple of chances: Schlupp’s shot being well saved by Čech, before Vardy’s low drive took a slight deflection which saw it hit the foot of the right hand post.
Vardy converted his next chance, in the 13th minute. Kante won the ball from Ramsey in City’s area and fed it to Drinkwater, who sent Vardy in down the right. A good first touch with his head saw him cutting in towards goal before sending a superb finish round Čech.
City almost went two goals ahead five minutes later, but Vardy’s header from an Albrighton cross hit the crossbar.
Arsenal then swept upfield and Walcott was sent clear of the defence by Cazorla and his low finish past Schmeichel, crept just inside the far post.

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There was a controversial moment leading up to the Gunners taking the lead in the 33rd minute. As City broke forward both Okazaki and Vardy were brought down but referee Pawson waved play on. Bellerín then raced down the right flank and delivered a low cross that reached Sánchez at the far post, and he slotted home from close in to give Arsenal the lead.
The ref then further enraged the home crowd when Okazaki was dragged over by Mertesacker, but loud appeals were once again ignored.

Ranieri brought King on for  Okazaki for the second half, though it didn’t really work for City who couldn’t match some of their fine first half play.
Arsenal were looking very strong and extended their lead in the 57th minute when a clever lob from Özil teed up Sánchez for a header past Schmeichel from close in.

2015-16 arsenal home b

Ulloa then came on for Albrighton and he set up a chance for King who missed the target with an ambitious drive.
Kramarić entered the fray in place of Drinkwater, but the Gunners further extended their lead with ten minutes remaining.
Sánchez made some room for himself on the edge of the area, before sending a precise shot low to Schmeichel’s right.
City pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when Kramarić was denied by Čech but Vardy was on hand to curl home a fantastic effort.
But any thoughts of yet another comeback were dismissed when Arsenal broke again and Monreal set up Giroud for the visitor’s fifth.

City’s unbeaten record was over, but surely Arsenal announced their title ambitions with a superb display of football.

Ranieri said of his players: “They showed the maximum character. I understand it’s difficult to play a team who use one or two touches. It’s impossible, when you go to press they move the ball very quickly. The quality of the Arsenal players is a very high level. We tried to do our best and created good chances, some were unlucky, and it’s important how we react in the next match.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Kanté, Drinkwater (Kramarić 78), Mahrez, Albrighton (Ulloa 64), Okazaki (King 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Simpson, Inler, Dodoo.
Arsenal: Čech, Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Özil, Cazorla, Flamini (Arteta 21), Sánchez, Walcott (Giroud 80). Subs Not Used: Debuchy, Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers

Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 32,047 (3,350).

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber


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Plaudits, but no points, for Leicester at the Emirates

Arsenal 2:1 Leicester City

2014-15 arsenal away

A spirited second half performance was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat for City at the Emirates on Tuesday night…

Nigel Pearson made three changes to his starting XI with Huth and Upson making their debuts alongside Morgan in a three-man central defence, and Kramarić making his first full league appearance; Wasilewski, Ulloa and Nugent making way.
City adopted an up and at ’em approach from the start in a fixture they hadn’t won since the days of Jimmy Bloomfield.
Mahrez saw his shot deflected wide, and then James’ half-volley was blocked by Bellerin.  Mahrez then went agonisingly close when his shot went through Ospina’s legs but just wide of the far post.
Arsenal then began to gain some ground and Walcott should have put the Gunners ahead when he broke clear on goal but Schwarzer pulled off a fine block.
Schwarzer then produced another save to deny Ozil but Arsenal took a 27th minute lead from the corner. From Ozil’s flag-kick Koscielny left Morgan standing as he raced to the near post for a neat finish.
Although City continued to press forward they wen tin at the break 2-0 down. Ozil’s 25-yard effort was parried by Schwarzer, but only into the path of Walcott, who fired the ball home.

Just before the hour Upson had to limp out of the action, replaced by Wasilewski, and City struck back a couple of minutes later.
After some great battling from Cambiasso on the right, the ball was worked out to Kramarić 18 yards out, who arrowed home his first goal for City.
City were the better side at this stage, but Mahrez sent a curling effort narrowly off target and then Kramarić elected to try and lob Ospina when clean through but delivered the ball straight into the keeper’s grasp.
With Ulloa and Nugent on for Morgan and Schlupp City desperately sought an equaliser, but they were contained by Arsenal’s defence and ended up with nothing to show for their considerable efforts.

The gap to safety extended to 5 points with a tough looking schedule coming up. Hopefully the FA Cup will offer some cheer on Sunday.

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Rosicky, Walcott (Ramsey 73 (Flamini 85)), Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez (Giroud 67). Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Welbeck.
Leicester: Schwarzer, Simpson, Huth, Morgan (Ulloa 80), Upson (Wasilewski 59), Konchesky, Mahrez, Cambiasso, James, Schlupp (Nugent 85), Kramarić. Subs Not Used: Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Hamer.

Referee: M Jones. Attendance: 60,032.  

Photo: Paul Coulson.


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