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Late Cardiff strike brings Leicester back down to earth

Leicester City 0:1 Cardiff City

Leicester City v Cardiff City - Premier League

A spectacular injury time goal from Camarasa earned Cardiff the points at the KPS on Saturday as City looked a shadow of the side that had beaten Chelsea and Man City…

Claude Puel made two changes to his side with Morgan and Choudhury replaced by Söyüncü and Gray.
The pattern of the game soon established itself with Cardiff defending in numbers and City having plenty of the ball.
Cardiff had a scare in the 5th minute when Cunningham intercepted a ball from Gray but then a back pass beyond Etheridge. To his relief it trickled inches wide of the post.
Cardiff then had spell of pressure and Morrison got his head to a Gunnarsson cross but cleared the bar. But City soon regained their dominance.
A skilful drag back earned Maddison some space for a 20-yarder but Etheridge guided it round the post. Ndidi sent a header over the bar from a corner and then a Ricardo shot forced a good save from Etheridge.
After a Bamba foul on Maddison the City No 10 picked himself up and swung the free-kick over the wall, but it didn’t have enough pace to beat Etheridge.
As half time approached Cardiff ventured forward more. There were big shouts for a penalty when Mendy appeared to shove Paterson over, and then a misplaced Söyüncü header hit the top of the bar.
As play switched from end to end, Maddison sent Vardy in down the left channel but  Etheridge was swiftly off his line to block the shot.

Leicester City v Cardiff City - Premier League

Etheridge was called into action again, saving a well-struck Gray shot and the sides went in goalless at half time. Many fans had expected a frustrating afternoon, and that’s what they were getting.

Etheridge made another fine save from Ricardo early in the second half, before getting booked for time-wasting when he didn’t appear to grasp the fact that he had to take a goal kick.
Claude Puel made his first change in the 58th minute, replacing a tired looking Albrighton with Ghezzal.
A wayward pass from Söyüncü then presented Murphy with a chance but Schmeichel got his defender off the hook with a solid save.
Puel then made an unpopular decision in the 68th minute, bringing  Iheanacho on for Vardy, and prompting loud booing from the stands.
This substitution didn’t look any better six minutes later when City were awarded a penalty.  Maddison wriggled through a crowded penalty area, playing a one-two with Ghezzal before having his arm pulled by Morrison. With no Vardy on the field Maddison took the kick, and sent it lamely within Etheridge’s reach. To make matters worse Maddison was slow to react to the rebound and was beaten to the ball by Bamba.

Leicester City v Cardiff City - Premier League

Okazaki came on for Gray as City tried to find a breakthrough with increasing desperation. Ghezzal fired in a shot that Bamba did well to block, and then he attempted a dipping 20-yarder that went narrowly wide.
As the game entered time-added-on Cardiff looked as though they fancied a first win of the season and began to press forward.
Schmeichel had to tip a Camarasa free-kick over the bar, but this was only a warning shot. Two minutes later the Real Betis player was given too much room 25 yards out and he launched a superb dipping shot into the top right hand corner.

Leicester City v Cardiff City - Premier League

After the recent triumphs a point would have been disappointing but understandable. But a defeat was tough to take, especially after the penalty award that should have given City the lead.

After a period of grace, the pressure is now piled back onto Claude Puel, who appears to be his own worst enemy at times. Although it is a hectic schedule, should he have changed a winning side and formation?
Puel explained his substitution of Vardy: “I manage my team about what I see. Jamie was in difficulty, he was tired. It’s normal. He has played almost all the last games, with full minutes. For Jamie or for other players, they have tiredness in this busy period.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Söyüncü, Maguire, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi,
Albrighton (Ghezzal 58), Maddison, Gray (Okazaki 79), Vardy (Iheanacho 68).
Substitutes: Simpson, Ward, Iborra, Fuchs.
Cardiff: Etheridge, Ecuele, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Cunningham, Gunnarsson,
Hoilett (Reid 83), Camarasa, Arter (Peltier 90), Murphy (Harris 78), Paterson.
Substitutes: Bennett, Ralls, Smithies, Mendez-Laing.

Referee: Simon Hooper. Attendance: 32,047.

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Battling performance earns Leicester a victory for Vichai at Cardiff

Cardiff City 0:1 Leicester City

1819 cardiff away a

On an afternoon of raw emotion a Demarai Gray goal edged City to victory at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday…

Just one week after the tragic accident at the King Power Stadium that claimed the lives of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Nusara Suknamai, Kaveporn Punpare, Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz, Claude Puel’s side took to the field again.

1819 cardiff away

Cardiff were hugely considerate hosts, and the home fans passed round their own tribute flag to match the one in the away corner, before an impeccably observed minute’s silence.
Puel made five changes to his starting XI with Morgan, Vardy, Ricardo, Mendy and Gray all returning to the side.
With many of the players visibly moved during the pre-match tributes the game got off to an understandably tentative start, but with both sides desperate for a win for very different reasons a competitive game soon began to unfold.

1819 cardiff away b

City’s first decent move came in the 21st minute when Abrighton’s fine first touch saw him feed Ricardo down the right. Although he beat his man a cut-back into the area went behind the in-rushing Vardy.
A minute later Maguire’s challenge on Paterson, who was in on goal, led to the England man landing heavily on his right knee. Although he returned to the game after some treatment it was soon clear that he couldn’t carry on, and Maguire limped off looking disconsolate as Evans replaced him.
Soon after this Gray went down clutching his ankle, but play didn’t stop until Ndidi chose to give away a free-kick on the edge of City’s area so he could get treatment.
Gray was fit to proceed, and Camarasa thumped the crossbar with his 25 yard effort.
After this, the tide turned a little and City had a strong period up to the break.
Ndidi rose like a salmon to get a head to Maddison’s corner, but his contact was poor and the ball drifted wide.
Mendy then had a fierce shot blocked by Arter when it looked goalbound, before Bamba put in a fine challenge on Ndidi as he shaped to shoot inside the area.
In the final minute of the half Bamba was involved again in an incident that had the City players roaring for a penalty. Etheridge saved a Maddison shot and the ball fell for Vardy who jabbed the ball goalwards, but Bamba’s outstretched arm diverted it up onto the bar. Referee Lee Probert turned the appeals down and Bamba breathed a sigh of relief.

City continued their good spell into the second half. Maddison sent a shot high and wide and then delivered a corner which Evans nodded down to Gray but his attempted flick was blocked by Gunnarsson.
Cardiff then broke upfield and Murphy cut in from the left, but Schmeichel got down well to his near post effort.
City took the lead in the 55th minute, a fine cross was delivered by Chilwell from the left flank and Gray was in the right place to send a measured side-footed half-volley beyond the reach of Etheridge.

1819 cardiff away e

This sparked emotional scenes as all eleven City players raced to the away corner to share the celebrations with the travelling support. Gray removed his shirt to reveal a ‘For Khun Vichai’ message and Lee Probert looked suitably regretful when he had to show him a yellow card.
Five minutes later there was another outpouring of emotion in the away corner as the City fans sang  ‘When You’re Smiling’ in the 60th minute, to mark Vichai’s age.
Cardiff went desperately in pursuit of a point, and Bamba prodded one effort wide, before attempted a spectacular overhead kick was also missed the target.
Puel responded with a substitution, bringing on Danny Simpson for his first appearance of the season, moving Ricardo forward and sending Albrighton to the left wing.
City went close to a second when a corner was nodded on by Ndidi, but Evans couldn’t quite connect with his head at full stretch.
City had some defending to do and Mendy blocked a Camarasa shot, before Paterson headed over from a corner.
With ten minutes remaining Iborra came on for Maddision and City managed to get their possession game together again.
In the 88th minute City broke upfield and Ndidi threaded a ball into Vardy’s well timed run behind the defence, but Etheridge managed to block his low shot.
City resolutely got through some Cardiff pressure during time-added-on before the referee’s whistle signalled three points for City, but more importantly, the win they wanted for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

1819 cardiff away c

The players and entire coaching staff went over to the Leicester corner to share a very special few moments to mark the end of a very difficult week, that had been handled superbly well by both club and fans.
The word ‘family’ has been much used this week and never did it seem more appropriate.

1819 cardiff away d

Although the club are still a long way away from ‘normality’ despite this return to action, the spirit shown this week bodes very well for the future.
Several players and staff went straight to Cardiff Airport after the game to travel to Thailand to attend the funeral. They will take our very best wishes with them.

Thank you Khun Vichai. R.I.P.

Cardiff: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett, Camarasa, Gunnarsson,
Arter (Ward 79), Murphy (Madine 85), Reid (Hoilett 65), Paterson.
Substitutes: Smithies, Cunningham, Damour, Harris.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire (Evans 27), Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Albrighton, Maddison (Iborra 82), Gray (Simpson 70), Vardy.
Substitutes: Iheanacho, Ward, Diabaté, Fuchs.

Referee: Lee Probert. Attendance: 30,877.

The next issue of The Fox will be dedicated to the memory of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the other victims of last Saturday’s horrific accident.
We invite you to send your thoughts and images to us at: garysilke@sky.com

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City lose out to leaders Cardiff

Leicester City 0:1 Cardiff City

1213 cardiff home

City were edged out of this contest against league leaders Cardiff by a single goal at the KPS on Saturday afternoon…

Nigel Pearson’s side had an excellent opening quarter of the game, with one-way traffic following towards Cardiff’s goal.  After Drinkwater had sent a long range effort sailing over the bar Nugent tested Marshall with an angled drive.
Marshall then did well to tip away a Morgan header from a corner; before City struck the woodwork twice in two seconds:  King firing against the post and Vardy instantly hitting the bar on the rebound.  An offside flag saved City’s blushes.
Knockaert then almost surprised Marshall with a swerving shot but he parried it to safety.
Cardiff then exhibited why they are the league leaders, taking a 25 minute lead with their first meaningful foray forwards.
City struggled to contain Kim down the right and his cross found Bellamy who produced a clinical first time finish from just inside the area.
Just as at Millwall, City’s heads seemed to go down and they could never match that opening spell again.
Vardy did manage to loop a header onto the bar just before the break, however.

The second half saw Cardiff dealing comfortably with City’s efforts to find an equaliser, while another immense contribution from Morgan ensured that the Welsh said didn’t add to their lead.  King also produced a brilliant last ditch challenge to deny  Gunnarsson from close in.
Vardy limped off early on, to be replaced by Waghorn, and then double substitution in the 62nd minute Dyer and Knockaert were replaced by Marshall and Lingard, but whatever combinations of players City had, they didn’t have enough to summon up an equaliser against an impressive Cardiff side.
Results elsewhere meant that City stayed fifth, but something is needed to lift them after a poor spell, possibly some activity in th eJanuary transfer window…

Nigel Pearson commented: “When you create as many goal-scoring opportunities as we did you would expect to score but today we came up against a side that, to be fair to them, defended well and had a lot of experience.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Whitbread, Konchesky, Knockaert (Marshall 62), King, Drinkwater, Dyer (Lingard 62), Nugent, Vardy (Waghorn 51). Unused Subs: Logan, James, Moore, Futacs.
Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Conway, Mutch (Gunnarsson 76), Whittingham, Kim (Cowie 51), Helguson (Gestede 55), Bellamy. Unused Subs: Lewis, McNaughton, Noone, Mason.
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire). Attendance: 25,055.

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Another stalemate in Cardiff

Cardiff City 0:0 Leicester City

Yet another tight game between Cardiff and Leicester ended goalless at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday afternoon…

The City side had ten changes from the midweek League Cup meeting on the same ground, starting with the same side that beat Brighton last Saturday.
After a well-observed minute’s silence for the miners that died in last week’s tragedy at Gleision the sides kicked off in bright Autumn sunshine.
City had the best of the early spell, quickly settling into their possession game and Gerrard did well to block an effort from Beckford; while King fired wide of the target.
Cardiff were forced into an early change when Conway limped off with a twisted ankle to be replaced by City nemesis Robert Earnshaw.
Earnshaw was soon on the thick of it, being dispossessed ten yards out by the magnificent Bamba, with appeals for a penalty rightly falling on deaf ears.
At the other end Earnshaw was the Bluebirds hero of the hour when Peltier got his head to a Wellens’ corner only to see the Welsh international clear off the line.
City pressed forward and Beckford was two inches shy of getting his head to a fantastic Konchesky cross from the right.
A Whittingham shot then forced Schmeichel into a rare bit of action, before Earnshaw’s brief but eventful cameo was over as he limped out of the game.
Mills then went close with a half-volley but the sides went in 0-0 at the break.
A Tale of Two Cities and a Game of Two Halves. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay had spent much of the first half in a gibbering rage and must have translated his frustration during the break. The Bluebirds, having used their third sub, came out looking like a different side and dominated play for much of the second half.
Whittingham sent a shot narrowly over and then swerved a free-kick into the side netting.
Konchesky’s well-struck free-kick was tipped away by Marshall, but it was the home side who looked more likely winners at this stage, Gestede being denied by a fine Mills block.  
Konchesky, having his finest game ina City shirt to date, then troubled Marshall with another long range effort, the keeper just recovering before Beckford closed in.
Cardiff, with Gestede limping badly and no more subs to bring on, then ran out of steam and City had several chances to win the game. With Johnson on for Fernandes City had a late spell of pressure against a packed Cardiff rearguard.
Vassell, in on the right, fired a hurried shot wide; King prodded a loose ball inches over the bar and then Vassell watched his downward header from close in bounce up and onto the bar of an empty goal.
It was close, but not close enough for City, who had to settle for a point. 
A frustrated Sven commented:  “It is normal for new players to take time to settle in. You can use the excuse of new players taking time to settle in the first three, four or five games but not any more. We can’t keep saying that. We have to play for the whole game like we did in the last 15 minutes here.”

Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Hudson (Blake 45), Gerrard, Naylor; Cowie, Gunnarsson, Kiss, Whittingham, Conway (Earnshaw 25, Gestede 43), Miller. Subs: Parish, Mason.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Mills, Bamba, Konchesky. Abe, King, Wellens, Fernandes (Johnson 74), Vassell, Beckford (Schlupp 72). Subs: Weale, Pantsil, Danns.
Referee: M Haywood (West Yorkshire). Attendance: 21,154.

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City Pay the Penalty at Cardiff Again

Cardiff City 2:2 Leicester City (Cardiff win 7-6 on pens)


City are out of the League Cup having suffered the recurring nightmare of a penalty shoot-out at Cardiff on Wednesday night…

The competition’s low standing was underlined by an 8,000 crowd and both sides making ten changes, Matt Mills being the only City player remaining from the side that beat Brighton. 
And it was a low key start with little of note hapening in the first half hour beyond a couple of half chances carved out by Schlupp and an off-target shot from Moussa.
Cardiff made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute when a lofted ball into the area was only half cleared and fell nicely for Cowie to nod into the top right hand corner.
This stung City into action and they were level six minutes later after great work from Schlupp down the right ended with him delivering a hard and low cross for Howard to stick out a toe and find the net via the left hand upright.
The second half again drifted into practice game mode until City took a 66th minute lead. A poor ball out of Cardiff’s back line went straight to Danns who hared into the area. A last ditch tackle halted him but the loose ball landed at the feet of Dyer who instantly lashed it home.
City’s lead lasted fifteen minutes before a hopefully punted free-kick saw Gestede given room to control and fire a shot past Weale from 25 yards.
Late efforts from Danns and Schlupp failed to find the target and half an hour’s virtually incident-free extra-time dragged on into the night. 
The almost inevitable penalty shoot-out duly arrived, with the ghost of Yann Kermorgant hanging over proceedings (although we know he’s not dead, obviously).
That rarest of occurences followed – with all 10 of the scheduled penalties being fired past Weale and Marshall with relatively little drama. Dyer, Howard, Abe , Danns and St Ledger for City and Naylor, Earnshaw, Cowie, Conway and Kiss for Cardiff.
Paintsil and Gestede then both converted before Fernandes took a huge run up and hoisted his effort over the bar and into the already celebrating Cardiff fans. Quinn sealed the Bluebirds victory with a confident blast into the top right hand corner and City were out of the League Cup.

Cardiff: Marshall, Quinn, Keinan, Taylor (Naylor 60), Blake, Cowie, Kiss, McPhail (Gunnarsson 29), Earnshaw, Gestede, Mason (Conway74). Subs:Santiago, Whittingham, Gerrard, Evans.  
Leicester: Weale, Mills (Peltier 46), St Ledger, Ball, Paintsil, Dyer, Danns, Moussa (Fernandes 81), Johnson (Abe 91), Schlupp, Howard. Subs: King, Kennedy, Beckford, Schmeichel.
Referee: R East (Wiltshire). Attendance: 8,697.  

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Here Be Dragons….

“HERE BE DRAGONS…” was the legend used on medieval maps to warn people away from unexplored territories…

As far as Leicester City are concerned it might as well be written on the ‘Welcome to Wales– Croeso I Gymru’ sign, because it really isn’t a happy hunting ground for the Foxes, and the thought of two trips in a week doesn’t fill me with optimism.

City have never had much luck in the Principality, our proud unbeaten run in 2010-11 came to an end at the Cardiff City Stadium one Tuesday night.  There was no reward for the loyal band of fans that followed City across Europe…one describing the return journey as taking: “Three and three-quarter hours after four motorway closures, four diversions and 196 miles.”
That 2-0 defeat matched the one at Swansea in October, following on from the previous season’s even more miserable showing.
Nigel Pearson’s side lost at Swansea and Cardiff in the league, then were knocked out of the FA Cup with a 4-2 defeat at Cardiff and then played at the Cardiff City Stadium yet again in the play-off semi-final. Now, technically, that was a fantastic 3-2 win for City, but that was soon forgotten when Yann Kermorgant dinked his infamous penalty at Bluebirds’ keeper David Marshall.

Looking back, it seems that a highlights DVD of City’s triumphs in the land of mountains, valleys and castles would be very, very short.

* 1961-62 – Going back into the mists of time, a 4-0 win at Cardiff (Cheeseborough 2, Keyworth, King).
* 1979-80 – Left-back Dennis Rofe produced two 40 yard efforts at the Vetch Field to beat Swansea 2-0.
* 1979-80 – A 1-0 win at Ninian Park with a Bobby Smith goal helping Jock Wallace’s side towards the Division Two title.
* 1979-80 – A superb long range free-kick from Eddie Kelly was enough to beat Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground and put City on top of Division Two.
* 1986-87 – A 2-0 League Cup win at Swansea, with goals from Gary McAllister and Alan Smith sealing a first leg victory for Bryan Hamilton’s City. The joy of which was somewhat tempered as we were chased across a garage forecourt by inflamed natives.
* 2005-06 – A low key 1-0 League Cup win at Cardiff thanks to a goal from Nils Eric Johansson.
* 2007-08 – A 1-0 win at Ninian Park thanks to a bizarre own goal from Darren Purse.

And that’s it. Apart from one, glorious, Dragon-slaying season under Jock Wallace we have very little to show from our trips to Wales in the last half century… but new season new players eh?
Perhaps this season could be different…. perhaps…


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Bluebirds End City’s Unbeaten Run

Cardiff City 2:0 Leicester City

City’s eight match unbeaten run came to an end in Cardiff on Tuesday night, with the Bluebirds enjoying a comfortable 2-0 victory…

Sven Goran Eriksson made two changes to his side for this long midweek trip to the Welsh capital with Chelsea loanee Jeffrey Bruma making his debut and Dyer getting  a starting place, Oakley and Vassell making way.
After a cagey opening spell City had the first chance with Gallagher forcing a save from Heaton with a low shot across goal in the 18th minute.
Dyer then sent Van Aanholt in on the left but his shot went straight at Heaton.
But Cardiff took a 21st minute lead through a simple move when Olofinjana squared for Chopra to net from 10 yards out.
City were on top for the rest of the half but were unable to conjure up an equaliser. Bamba headed wide from a Mee cross; Burma strode through the middle before firing a shot narrowly over;King clipped a ball from Wellens just wide; and  Yakubu’s 25 yarder following a McNaughton error was off target.
The second half started in much the same vein when Wellens forced a save from Heaton after shooting from the edge of the area; and Gallagher sent a long range free-kick inches over the bar.
Then, in the 52nd minute, Cardiff gave City another lesson in economy of finishing.
Mcnaughton squared a ball to Ramsey, on loan from Arsenal as he comes back from a leg break, who side-footed past Ricardo to put the game beyond City’s reach.
Sven responded with a double substitution – Abe and Waghorn coming on for Gallagher and Wellens – but Cardiff were on top now and Ricardo brought off a fine save to deny Emmanuel-Thomas.
What few chances there were in the clsoing stages fell to the home side with substitute Parkin forcing Ricardo into a save and Burke going close.
It was a disappointing end to a great run for City, and an unrewarding trip for those City fans who had travelled and faced four sepearate motorway closures on the long trek home.
Sven was already looking ahead: “We will bounce back, I am sure of that. We will be disappointed all the way back home but, when we get back into training on Thursday, we will pull ourselves together and go on fighting. It is important that we bounce back against Coventry on Saturday and then QPR away.”
Happily results elsewhere went in City’s favour so not too much damage was done.

Cardiff: Heaton, Quinn, Keinan, McNaughton, Hudson, Whittingham, Olofinjana (Parkin 77), Ramsey, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra (McPhail 53), Bothroyd (Burke 71). Subs Not Used: Naylor, Gyepes, Marshall, Blake.  
Leicester Ricardo, Bamba, Naughton, Mee, Van Aanholt, Bruma, King, Dyer (Vassell 67), Wellens (Abe 55), Yakubu, Gallagher (Waghorn 55). Subs Not Used: Weale, Berner, Oakley, Vitor.

Referee: D McDermid (Hampshire). Attendance: 22,410.

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Cardiff Succumb to King Power

Leicester City 2:1 Cardiff City

City finally claimed their first victory of the season, two goals from Andy King settling a thrilling game against Cardiff at Filbert Way on Tuesday night…

Paulo Sousa made one change to his side with Howard in for Fryatt, facing a weakened Cardiff team missing the considerable talents of Craig Bellamy, Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd.
After a hesitant opening the first chance fell to the Bluebirds, with Koumas’s shot being held by on-loan keeper Ikeme after a spot of juggling.  
City then had a better spell with crosses from Dyer and Waghorn not finding any takers and Wellens sending a long range effort over the bar. Despite this it was the visitors who took a  25th minute lead completely out of the blue.
Naylor, some 40 yards out on the left, struck what looked like a cross but could have been a shot. It completely deceived the backpedalling Ikeme and ended up in the net.
Cardiff almost extended their lead but Ikeme made a good save from an unmarked Keogh from 15 yards.
City almost went in even at the break but a Howard header was cleared off the line and then Waghorn couldn’t quite convert a Dyer cross at full stretch at the far post.
As has been the case for much of this season, City had nothing to show for a decent performance, but they were to put that right in the second half.
Just six minutes after the break Wellens delievered a precise cross for King to nod past Marshall and City were on level terms.  
City had their tails up now, creating chance after chance, roared on by the home crowd. Waghorn and Dyer both sent efforts narrowly wide, and Marshall was almost caught out by an Oakley effort, saving with his knee. Waghorn saved forced a great save from the Cardiff keeper with a low shot, before sending yet another effort just wide.
Such was the pressure on the Welsh side that a goal had to come and it arrived in the 68th minute. A neat passing move saw Neilson feed Wellens, who set up King for a cool finish from close in.
The noise that greeted what turned out to be the winner could have come from a full house and seemed signify a corner being turned in Sousa’s management.
Marshall then gifted Dyer a chance with a wayward ball out but the winger fired his shot against the right hand post.
Yuki Abe came on for his debut in the 81st minute, replacing King who was given a fantastic ovation off the field.
After Burke sent a shot well over Cardiff were done. City’s increasingly polished passing game denied them any meaningful possession and even the five minutes time added on was comfortable.

A delighted Sousa expressed himself as only he can: “I am very happy and we have deserved this win before so it is nice to get under way. I feel the team is closer to my personality now. We had the character, anger and desire to win the game and my image is on them now.”

Having seen second placed Cardiff despatched, City fans now await the visit of table-topping QPR with relish…

Leicester: Ikeme, Berner, Hobbs, Neilson, Morrison, King (Abe 82), Dyer, Oakley, Wellens, Howard, Waghorn (Gallagher 85). Subs Not Used: Logan, Fryatt, Moreno, Moussa, Vítor.
Cardiff: Marshall, Naylor, Gyepes, McNaughton, Hudson, Koumas (Wildig 60), Burke, Whittingham, Rae, McPhail (Blake 69), Keogh. Subs Not Used: Quinn, Heaton, Taiwo, Matthews, Jarvis.

Referee: K G Evans. Attendance: 20,510.

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Penalty Heartbreak for City

Cardiff City 2:3 Leicester City (4:3 pens)

A huge performance from City was not enough to get them to Wembley: after winning 3-2 on the night to level the tie they then crashed out at the penalty shoot-out stage…

Nigel Pearson reunited his old strike partnership of Fryatt and Howard for this play off showdown, with Waghorn and Spearing making way.
The game kicked off in a white hot atmosphere and Cardiff were in charge for th eopnein gspell, carving City’s defence up time after time.
After just 4 minutes Whittingham went clear, but sent his shot narrowly wide with only Weale to beat.
Two minutes later Whittingham forced Weale into a good save from a free-kick and then it was Chopra’s turn to go close, sending an effort wide when well placed. Boothroyd then fired a shot inches wide, before the home side made the breakthrough in the 21st minute.
Boothroyd nodded a long ball into the path of Chopra, who tucked the ball under the advancing Weale for a simple finish that left City with a mountain to climb.
They set about climbing that mountain three minutes later…
Fryatt got on the end of a through ball, the ball looped up onto Howard’s head and he nodded it back to Fryatt who fired in a shot on the run from 12 yards. Marshall half blocked it but the ball had enough momentum to trundle slowly over the line and it was the Leicester corner’s turn to celebrate.
City had their tails up now and ten minutes later they levelled the tie. A long free kick from Gallagher was nodded goalwards by Howard and the ball hit Hudson’s head and looped over the keeper and into the net for an unlikely own goal.
There were chances for Fryatt and Whittingham late in the half but the teams level on aggregate at the break.
That state of affairs did not last long into the second half as City delighted their noisy following making it 3-1 on the night in the 49th minute. 
Gallagher’s corner from the right was cleared back to him and he delivered a precise cross to the far post where King was waiting unchallenged to nod the ball home.  

For a while Cardiff’s heads went down and the crowd were quiet, a goalmouth scramble saw the ball cleared off Cardiff’s line, but City couldn’t add a fourth.
The home side then levelled the tie in the 70th minute and  City Wembley dream began to unravel.
Referee Howard Webb and his linesmen failed to spot Chopra in an offside position before he was brought down by Bruce in the area. It was par for the course for Webb who’s officiating had grown increasingly erratic as the game progressed.  Whittingham sent Weale the wrong way with an assured penalty and the whole stadium was transformed into a cauldron.
Bothroyd smashed a shot against the bar after a good run; Hobbs blocked a Chopra shot on the line and then Whittingham sent a free-kick against the bar as Cardiff piled on the pressure.  
However, City almost booked a trip to Wembley late on when Howard saw his well struck volley beaten away by Marshall. The Bluebirds’ keeper then punched a Waghorn corner onto his own post in time added on, but there was no avoiding extra time.

The pace slackened a little in the additional half hour, but both sides had chances to win the tie.
A low drive from McCormack was tipped round the left hand post by Weale, and Etuhu forced a good save from the City keeper at his near post. Spearing then found Waghorn in space on the left and he chested down well before volleying wide of the right hand post. 
But the two sides could not be seperated and the evening moved on to the dreaded penalty shoot-out…
At first things seemed to be going well for City. The shoot-out took place at the end where the visitors were housed and Berner coolly planted the ball past Marshall.
Chopra responded in kind and then Howard sent Marshall the wrong way, before McCormack levelled with another textbook spot kick.
Solano then sent an unstoppable shot past Marshall before Ledley’s low shot just evaded Weale to square at 3-3.
Then Kermorgant stepped up, and what was going through his mind we may never know.
He opted for a ridiculous delicate chip that Marshall shooed away with one hand and the Cardiff City stadium erupted.

It was a horrible moment, compounded when Kennedy took a proper penalty to put Cardiff in the driving seat.
Waghorn, with possibly his last kick in a City shirt hit a decent enough shot but Marshall flew to his left to tip it away and the season was over.
An inconsolable Waghorn had to be half dragged away as the home fans poured onto the pitch.
It was a devastating end to what will be looked back upon as a season of quite some achievement.

Nigel Pearson summed up the evening and the campaign: “Tough – it’s tough on the players. I think tonight our performance epitomised us this year. I think the commitment, desire, application was first rate. I can’t ask a great deal more. Once you get to a penalty shoot-out it’s about dealing with it and they’ve been better than us in it. There are a lot of very, very disappointed players in there and although the emotion’s a bit raw at the moment, I’m proud of what they’ve achieved this season.”

Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton (Quinn 89), Hudson, Kennedy, Burke (Etuhu 60), Whittingham (McCormack 89), Ledley, Blake, McPhail, Chopra, Bothroyd. Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Gyepes, Wildig, Capaldi.
Leicester: Weale, Berner, Bruce, Hobbs, King, Dyer (Waghorn 72), Solano, Wellens, Gallagher (Spearing 72), Fryatt (Kermorgant 89), Howard. Subs Not Used: Logan, Vaughan, N’Guessan, Morrison.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent). Attendance: 26,033.


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City Trailing at ‘Half Time’

Leicester City 0:1 Cardiff City

City have a big job to do in Cardiff on Wednesday having lost the home leg of the play-offs 1-0 at Filbert Way…

Nigel Pearson made five changes to his side with Weale, Berner, Waghorn, King and Dyer returning to the starting line-up, with Waghorn ploughing a lone furrow up front.
Cardiff edged the first half. City’s plan to thread the ball through to Waghorn never bore fruit and the visitors created more clear cut chances.
Boothroyd sent a shot narrowly wide; as did Chopra when well placed. Chopra then turned a Burke cross onto the post from close in with the goal at his mercy five minutes before half time.
But for a five minute attacking spell and a series of corners City had not looked like the home side in the first half.
The second half saw City pressing forward more and Spearing fired a shot well over from a good position, but Cardiff still looked dangerous and Boothroyd sent a header just over the bar.
Wellens fired a long range effort inches wide of the post and then there were loud appeals for a penalty when McNaughton appeared to handle a Solano cross.
Cardiff then struck the first blow of the tie in the 77th minute. A free-kick out on the right was delayed after Whittingham had tried to steal ten yards. The ref sent him back, but he inched forward again while City failed to set up a wall. Whittingham’s low shot beat Weale and put the Bluebirds ahead, to the delight of their 3,000 followers.
Only now did City take the game by the scruff of its neck and begin to play like the side that had won its last five matches.
Fryatt, on for Dyer, chased a through ball and after McNaughton and Kennedy got in each other’s way the City striker was presented with a gilt-edged chance for an equaliser. With only Marshall to beat Fryatt lamely shot straight at the
keeper and the chance was gone.
There was another big shout for hand ball before Gallagher failed to convert a chance that fell to him of the left, curling the ball wide of the far post.
As the game entered five minutes of time added on there was more agony for City as Bruce’s firm, goalbound header was somehow clawed away by the flying Marshall.
Despite this late rally, inspired by a 15 minute cameo from Kermorgant, the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes in the visitors corner, and despite some poor refereeing decisions it was difficult to argue that they hadn’t deserved it.
Nigel Pearson refuted suggestions that City had sat back: “I don’t think we were cagey and we have tried to play on the front foot for the whole of the tie. It was disappointing to concede and not to have grabbed an equaliser, but there is lots of football still in this and Cardiff will know that as well.”

Leicester: Weale, Berner, Bruce, Hobbs, King, Dyer (Fryatt 62), Solano, Wellens (N’Guessan 85), Spearing, Gallagher, Waghorn (Kermorgant 76). Subs Not Used: Logan, Oakley, Adams, Morrison.
Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Blake, Hudson, Kennedy, Burke ( Etuhu, 75 ) , Whittingham, Ledley, McPhail, Chopra ( McCormack 89), Bothroyd. Subs Not Used: Quinn, Enckelman, Gyepes, Wildig, Capaldi.

Referee: A G Wiley (Staffordshire). Attendance: 29,165.

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