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City Fail to Conquer Palace

Leicester City 1:1 Crystal Palace

City’s play-off hopes all but faded away as they failed to beat relegation threatened Crystal Palace at Filbert Way on Tuesday night….

Sven Goran Eriksson made no changes to the side that beat Burnley 4-0, with Bruma returning to the bench after suspension.
City dominated possession for the first 20 minutes without threatening the Palace goal as the Eagles kept plenty of men back, waiting their chance to hit on the break. An off-target Kamara shot was all City had to show for their efforts when Palace took a shock lead on the half hour. 
A long range effort from Scannell didn’t appear to pose much of a threat but somehow beat Weale to find the net, with City making life hard for themselves.
Although Bamba forced a save from Speroni Palace took heart from the lead and were the better side up to the break with chances from Scannell and Counago.
Vassell came on for Gallagher at the break as City went in search of an equaliser. He set up Oakley for a chance that missed the target, but the City skipper would soon make amends. In the 59th minute Wellens lofted a ball into the penalty area and McCarthy headed a looping clearance that fell nicely for Oakley to volley home his first goal in two years.
With Derby beating Leeds, a win would put City within two points of a play-off place, but the rest of the evening was an exercise in frustration for the City faithful.
Yakubu skied an effort over the bar from two yards after good wrok from Mee and Vassell; and Van Aanholt sent a weak shot at Speroni from a decent position.
The introduction of Howard and Dyer for Yakubu and Kamara, didn’t change City’s fortunes and th eonly incident of note in five minutes of time added on saw Zaha dismissed for toe-poking a grounded Van Aanholt in the head.
Results elsewhere went well, so City still have a chance of making the play-offs, but they can’t afford to slip up again in the remaining five games, which seems a massive task.
 
Leicester: Weale, Bamba, Vitor, Mee, Van Aanholt, King, Oakley, Wellens, Kamara (Dyer 77), Yakubu (Howard 78), Gallagher (Vassell 46). Subs Not Used: Abe, Ricardo, Bruma, Berner. 
Palace: Speroni, Gardner, McCarthy, Moxey, Clyne, Danns, Garvan (Agustien 64), Dikgacoi, Scannell (Vaughan 69), Zaha, Counago (Iversen 80). Subs Not Used: Cadogan, Price, Ambrose, Davis.

Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire). Attendance: 22,303.

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City Crush Clarets to Revive Play Off Hopes

Leicester City 4:0 Burnley

The new, state-of-the-art screens at Filbert Way were put to good use on Saturday, replaying all four goals as City ran rampant against Burnley…

With Naughton unwell and Bruma suspended Sven Goran Eriksson drafted Vitor and Mee into his defence, while Diomansy Kamara made his home debut. 
It only took Kamara 23 minutes to find the net, and give City a lead they never looked like surrendering.
Kamara made twenty yards through the middle before finding Yakubu, and then nipping the ball off his toe before slotting the ball under Jensen.
Kamara was outstanding for City causing Burnley plenty of problems though the game became a little pedestrian towards half-time with chances scarce for both sides.
In the second half Kamara kick-started City back into life… in the 52nd minute the Fulham loanee raced onto a Gallagher ball into the penalty area, being brought down by Bikey for an obvious penalty. Gallagher’s spot kick was a little too near Jensen for comfort but was so solidly struck that it forced a way through his grasp. 
After Yakubu and King had threatened, City’s third goal arrived in the 69th minute when Gallagher was not closed down quickly enough and fired home a 30 yarder low to Jensen’s right.
With the game won, Yakubu, Kamara (to a standing ovation) and Oakley were withdrawn for Abe, Howard and Vassell.  
But City were not done yet and in the 81st minute Van Aanholt, cutting in from the left, combined beautifully with King before clipping a precise curling shot beyond Jensen’s reach and just inside the right hand post. It looked even better on the big screens as fans and players enjoyed it again.
City were rampant now and Vassell teed up Wellens for a volley which hit the bar and Jensen saved well from Gallagher.
It was a fantastic performance that still gave City an outside chance of a play-off place, but left Sven puzzled as to why they couldn’t produce that level of performance more often: “It was a top-class performance from everyone, including the three subs. Everyone did fantastic. But we should be playing like this more often, and that makes me angry. Today we were focused. There were no mistakes, we were patient after going 1-0 in keeping the ball – top, top class. But the players we have, and the team we have – we should do it more often.”

Leicester: Weale, Bamba, Vitor, Mee, Van Aanholt, King, Oakley (Abe 79), Wellens, Kamara (Howard 73), Yakubu (Vassell 73), Gallagher. Subs Not Used: Ricardo, Dyer, Berner, Moreno.  
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Easton, Marney, Eagles, Elliott (Thompson 73), Iwelumo (Wallace 73), Rodriguez  (Alexander 86), Delfouneso. Subs Not Used: Duffy, Carlisle, Edgar, Grant.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffs). Attendance: 24,039.

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Play Off Hopes Fade After Pompey Defeat

Leicester City 0:1 Portsmouth

A sunny day at Filbert Way saw formerly bright hopes of a play-off place darkening as Portsmouth beat a deflated City 1-0 on Saturday…

Sven Goran Eriksson made one change to the side that won at Scunthorpe with two-goal hero on the day Vitor, being replaced by Bruma.
Following the recent appalling events in Japan Yuki Abe led the side out before a well observed minutes silence.
City started brightly in front of a big crowd, and should have taken an early lead, but Yakubu headed wide when connecting with a good Gallagher cross.
But that good start counted for nothing as Pompey took a 13th minute lead. Halford’s long throw from the right saw Bamba and Ricardo in a mix up. The keeper never made his punch and Bamba’s header only went as far as Nugent, who cooly steered a half volley into the empty net.
Four minutes later City went close to an equaliser when Gallagher delivered an accurate corner from the left but Pompey keeper Ashdown threw out a fist to send Bamba’s header over the bar.
Chances were scarce as the visitors closed City down: Gallagher sent a long range effort just the wrong side of the post in the 25th minute, but other than that it was a frustrating spectacle for the home crowd.
The second half wasn’t much better. Yakubu continued to look out of form in front of goal and City were struggling to make any kind of dent in a defence that had kept seven clean sheets in the last eight games.
The best chance on the hour when a good ball from Bruma picked out an intelligent run from Gallagher, but despite a great first touch Ashdown was swiftly out to smother the shot with a vital block.
The introduction of Dyer and Waghorn for Abe and Vassell made no difference against a well drilled defence and the best opportunity in the closing stages came when Da Laet clearly handled in the area but escaped the ref’s attention.
Portsmouth should have gone 2-0 up but Ward screwed his shot from close in wide when it looked easier to score.
A fierce shot from Naughton on the right was well saved by Ashdown, and there was no way back for a flat looking City side.
A disappointed Sven commented: “From our performance over 90 minutes we did enough to get at least a draw. We created some good chances. I can’t criticise the team. They tried hard enough. They stood up and battled against a very physical team.”

Leicester: Ricardo, Bamba, Naughton, Mee, Bruma, King, Abe (Dyer 61), Wellens, Yakubu, Gallagher, Vassell (Waghorn 68). Subs Not Used: Vitor, Moreno, Oakley, Berner, Weale.  
Portsmouth: Ashdown, Halford, Rocha, Hreidarsson, De Laet, Lawrence, Mullins, Cotterill (Ward 64), Hogg , Kitson, Nugent  (Dickinson  74). Subs Not Used: Kilbey, Ciftci, Flahavan, Kanu.

Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire). Attendance: 26,645.

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A Tale of Two Cities

Brought together by Rock and Roll, a Tale of Two Cities, Leicester v Manchester, Kasabian v Oasis, Tevez v Vassell, the 1969 FA Cup Final replayed, the Ghost of Frank Large, inflatable bananas, 4pm at Filbert Way, not a seat to be had… bring it on.

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City’s Boxing Day Fightback

Leicester City 2:2 Leeds United

After a dull start City and Leeds served up a second half feast of football for a large Boxing Day crowd at Filbert Way…

Sven Goran Eriksson made two changes to his side with Hobbs and Howard in for Vitor and Dyer.
City were on top in the opening stages with some early probing that almost set up King and Howard with chances.  A series of City free-kicks and corners were dealt with by the Leeds defence before the visitors took a 19th minute lead with their first attack.
Kilkenny’s cross from the right found Gradel in the goalmouth and, as Naughton slipped at the vital moment, the former-City man was left with a free header past Kirkland fron close range.
City were knocked back by this and the rest of the half was almost without incident. The two exceptions being a great run downt eh left by Cunningham and a good move involving Vassell and Howard which saw the latter blazing an effort well over.
Things got worse before they got better for City, with Simon Grayson’s side going 2-0 up ten minutes into the second half. A corner was cleared as far as Snodgrass out on the left and he blasted a half volley past Kirkland from an acute angle to get the 3,000 + in the away corner bouncing.
Things looked bleak for City at this stage, but a double substitution – Bednar and Dyer on for Abe and Howard – brought an improvement and they battled their way back into the game.
In the 71st minute Vassell was sent clear by Gallagher and looked set to score when he was upended by Schmeichel. It was an obvious red card, the Leeds’ keeper being the last man and denying Vassell a goal, but Referee Bates played Father Christmas and only produced a yellow.
Schmeichel, who was laughing to himself as he turned to the Kop to take his place, then had to pick the ball out of the net after another successful Gallagher spot-kick. 
Five minutes later he was beaten again. King, 25 yards out, delivered a perfect dipping shot over the keeper and under the bar for a fantastic equaliser.
In a stormy closing spell Kirkland saved from a scramble in the area, while at the other end Bednar was mugged in the penalty area for an obvious penalty that wasn’t given. A brawl then broke out as both sides literally fought for a late winner. Honours were even at the final whistle, with a large crowd being treated to an entertaining and hard fought encounter.

Sven was happy with the point: “We didn’t start very well and, when we cannot pass the ball well, we are not that good. Leeds were aggressive and did not allow us to play our normal game. The pitch was difficult but that is my fault because we have been training on it every day because the training ground is frozen. But we showed that, even if pitches are not perfect, we can work and get back into games.”

Leicester: Kirkland, Davies, Hobbs, Naughton, King, Abe (Dyer 64), Wellens, Cunningham, Gallagher, Vassell, Howard (Bednar 65). Subs Not Used: Oakley, Weale, Moussa, Morrison, Waghorn.
Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly, O’Brien, Collins, McCartney, Kilkenny (Faye 89), Johnson, Howson (Paynter 85), Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio (McCormack 85). Subs Not Used: Sam, Bruce, Higgs, Bromby.

Referee: A Bates (Staffs). Attendance: 30,919.

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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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City Draw Hornets’ Sting

Leicester City 4:1 Watford

City took a big stride towards the play-offs at Filbert Way on Saturday, comfortably beating Watford 4-1 with goals from Martyn Waghorn, Paul Gallagher, Jay Spearing and James Vaughan despite playing the second half with ten men…

Nigel Pearson stuck with a winning formula, picking the same side for a third game running.
The opening half hour saw an even contest with Gallagher going close a couple of times; Weale saving well from Lansbury and Graham sending a shot narrowly wide.
But City got a fortunate break in the 35th minute when DeMerit was judged to have brought Wellens down in the area, when it looked as though the Watford man had reached the ball first.
Waghorn took the spot kick and confidently stroked the ball to Loach’s left.
Five minutes later City doubled their lead when a shot from Howard was blocked and the ball looped up high in the air before being volleyed sweetly into the bottom left hand corner by Gallagher from 18 yards out.
There was more drama in time added on when Howard was guilty of a clumsy challenge on Jenkins. He was unfortunate to get a straight red card, perhaps partly due to the fact that the foul had taken place in the away fans corner, and they reacted strongly having already been wound up by a battle with the stewards.
So City faced a whole second half with ten men and Vaughan replaced Gallagher.
However, City didn’t seem to need eleven men and they stretched their lead just six minutes into the second half.
A weak clearance went to Spearing who had time to chest the ball down and then volley it past Loach for his first City goal, before setting off on a delighted celebratory run.
In the 67th minute City’s other young on-loan Merseysider also got on to the scoresheet for the first time. Vaughan’s pace and persistence saw him beat Mariappa to the ball before slotting it past Loach to wrap up the three points.
The Hornets’ only consolation came in the 77th minute when Taylor nodded in at the far post from a corner, but it had been City’s afternoon.
Although Blackpool won and are still in the race for a play-off place, City’s fate is in their own hands, and they are looking very assured at present.
Nigel Pearson remained cautious: “We are not quite there yet, but we are in a decent position. We’ve worked hard to be in this good position and now we’ve got to make sure we see that through.”

Leicester: Weale, Brown, Berner, Hobbs, Morrison, King, Wellens (Adams 58), Spearing, Gallagher (Vaughan 46), Howard, Waghorn (Kermorgant 65). Subs Not Used: Logan, Solano, Bruce, N’Guessan.
Watford: Loach, Demerit (Taylor 56), Mariappa, Harley, Bennett, Hodson (Helguson 50), Eustace, Lansbury, Cowie (Bryan 69), Jenkins, Graham. Subs Not Used: Lee, Hoskins, McGinn, Noble. 

Referee: Nigel Miller (Co Durham). Attendance: 24,765.

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