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Leicester dig deep at West Ham for first away win

West Ham United 2:3 Leicester City

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A flying start, and a grimly determined finish, delivered City’s first away win of the season at West Ham on Saturday afternoon…

Craig Shakespeare made one change for City’s first trip to the London Stadium, with Benalouane in for Morgan, who injured his back against Sevilla.
And they got off to a great start, taking a 5th minute lead. Mahrez cut in from the right a swung in a cross that flew straight into the net, with Hammers keeper Randolph distracted by Okazaki’s attempted header.
Just two minutes later, the away end was celebrating again as City doubled their lead.
From a free-kick, Mahrez fed Albrighton on the edge of the area and his lofted flick found Huth on the six yard line, the German nodding home City’s second.

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West Ham’s afternoon then got worse when Reid pulled up while running for the ball and had to be replaced by Snodgrass.
But the home side began to get into their stride and pulled a goal back in the 21st minute.
Drinkwater fouled Antonio 25 yards out for a West Ham free-kick. Lanzini got it over the wall and just inside the left hand post with an excellent strike that left Schmeichel rooted to the spot.

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As West Ham pressed for an equaliser Antonio set up Ayew for a shot, which failed to hit the target. Then Antonio had a shot deflected into Schmeichel’s arms, before Carroll had a goal ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
Ayew then headed over when well placed, before City struck again in the 39th minute.
A Mahrez corner led to a scramble in the goalmouth, then Vardy seized on the loose ball lashing it into the roof of the net.

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Although Lanzini sent a shot narrowly wide, City took a two goal cushion in at the break.

Early in the second half, Benalouane tried an ambitious free-kick from the halfway line, but didn’t catch Randolph out as he collected it under the bar.
A fine Mahrez ball then sent Vardy in on goal, but he was off balance and sent his shot wide.
The home side began to crank up the pressure again, and Schmeichel got down smartly to tip a Lanzini’s free kick round the post.
West Ham reduced City’s lead in the 63rd minute. A Lanzini corner from the left was nodded back by Carroll at the far post, and Ayew headed home from close in.
It left a long time to defend a single goal lead, but City, now looking tried after their midweek heroics, dug deep to cling on to their precious lead.
As West Ham piled on the pressure, Craig Shakespeare made a double change in the 76th minute – Musa and Slimani replacing Vardy and Okazaki.
A minute later Carroll’s far post header forced a brillaint save from Schmeichel.
Ayew then blasted over from close in, with an equaliser looking imminent. Drinkwater cleared a Kouyate effort off the line as play became frantic.
What looked like a dislocated finger for Benalouane, held up play for a while and seemed to take the impetus away from West Ham. But they still looked certain to level in the 90th minute when Carroll found himself with just Schmeichel to beat from close range.
City’s captain for the day spread himself well and blocked the shot with a fantastic save.
City weathered six minutes of time added on, to claim three points away for the first time in eleven months.

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It was an immense performance from City and Craig Shakespeare commented: “There is no secret. I think hard work, commitment and endeavour, we showed all of them today, along with some good footballers. We scored the goals at the right time today. It gave us a foothold in the game. There is no secret. The hard work is paramount to success and we have to keep doing that.” 

West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73), Kouyate, Obiang (Fernandes 67), Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll. Subs Not Used: Nordtveit, Feghouli, Adrian, Collins.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Musa 76), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs Not Used: King, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Referee: R East. Attendance: 56,979. 

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Leicester end 2016 on a winning note

Leicester City 1:0 West Ham United

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The greatest year in Leicester City’s history ended with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against West Ham at the King Power Stadium on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri brought Mahrez, Drinkwater and Huth back into the starting XI (with Chilwell retaining his place) and changed formation, with Mahrez operating freely behind lone striker Slimani.
City went at West Ham right from the kick off, Slimani setting up Mahrez for an acrobatic shot that tested Randolph in the Hammers’ goal.
Two minutes later City threatened again: a well-measured Drinkwater ball sent Albrighton haring down the right and he delivered a cross that Slimani met with a header that rattled the left hand post.
West Ham began to press forward having weathered the early assault. Cresswell had a fierce shot blocked, and then saw his dangerous cross intercepted by Morgan.
Drinkwater went close with a volley in the 19th minute, and then City raised the roof soon after with an opening goal.
Albrighton sent over another fine cross from the right and Slimani’s thumping far post header went back across Randolph and into the net.

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It was the goal that City, and Slimani, desperately needed and it gave the home crowd a real lift.
City continued to press forward and Ogbonna went close to scoring an own goal as he blocked an Albrighton cross.
But as half time approached, West Ham gained control of the game and City had some defending to do. An incisive Noble ball almost set up Antonio on the penalty spot before Simpson’s timely intervention. This led to a scramble on the six yard line before Amartey managed to hack the ball clear.
The Hammers then came within inches of an equaliser when a Cresswell cross from the left was met on the half-volley by Antonio, but his effort hit the bar.
It was an end-to-end encounter now and both sides went close from free-kicks on the edge of the area. Huth’s ball-winning challenge on Payet was punished by referee Andrew Taylor. Payet’s curling effort into the bottom right hand corner was tipped away by Schmeichel.

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Gray then broke upfield on a lone raid and was fouled by Reid.
Mahrez’s free-kick was heading for the top right hand corner when Randolph got a hand to it at full stretch.
City took the precious lead in with them at the break, but knew that they faced a hard battle in the second half.
Although West Ham had more possession, they were being kept at bay by City, until a close call in the 67th minute.
Cresswell’s well-struck free kick from the right took a deflection of Chilwell, but Schmeichel managed to change direction to pounce on the loose ball.
Claudio Ranieri made his first change with 20 minutes remaining, bringing on Fuchs for Mahrez and pushing Chilwell forward.
Payet went on a run though City’s defence, but his shot went tamely at Schmeichel.

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With ten minutes remaining, City were beginning to look a bit laboured and Ranieri injected new life into the performance, bringing on Okazaki and Ulloa for Gray and Slimani. This had the desired effect and the tide turned with City now pressing forward.
Chilwell connected well with a shot from inside the area but Carroll blocked.
With five minutes remaining Cresswell crossed from the left but Carroll’s free-header went a yard wide from close in.
During six minutes of time added on, Simpson blocked Ogbonna’s header, and City had done enough to earn a very welcome three points.

It was a fitting end to 2016, as Claudio Ranieri enthused: “It is very important to get three points to close our fantastic year – it was unbelievable for us. Of course, it is very important for our table, twenty points. Forty is considered the magic number to survive relegation, and we are halfway through.
Our first thirty minutes were fantastic. In the second half we closed all the space very well and tried to score a goal. It’s important now to improve our confidence and be solid and strong.”

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Chilwell; Drinkwater, Amartey; Gray (Okazaki 80), Mahrez (Fuchs 70), Albrighton; Slimani (Ulloa 82).Subs Not Used: Zieler, King, Mendy, Musa.
West Ham: Randolph, Reid, Cresswell, Nordtveit, Kouyate (Fernandes 78), Carroll, Noble (Lanzini 57), Ayew (Feghouli 64), Ogbonna, Payet, Antonio. Subs Not Used: Adrian, Obiang, Fletcher, Quina.

Referee: A Taylor. Attendance: 32,060.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 
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Ulloa rescues a point for ten man Leicester

Leicester City 2:2 West Ham United 

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Leonardo Ulloa equalised from the spot against West Ham with seconds remaining of a game wrecked by referee Jon Moss at the KPS on Sunday…

On the back of five straight wins Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged starting line-up, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start.
Schmeichel pulled off a fantastic save, tipping Kouyate’s header against the right hand post. The ball went across the face of the goal and looked sure to be converted by Emenike, before it hit the other post and landed safely in the City keeper’s grasp.

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After this early warning that West Ham hadn’t come to roll over for the league leaders City began to press forward.
Huth got his head to an Albrighton free-kick, but beat the right hand post by a couple of yards, and then Drinkwater fired an effort from range over the bar.
City then took a 19th minute lead after a sweeping upfield move. From a Schmeichel throw Mahrez sent Kanté on a charge down the middle, and he set up Vardy in on the left for a great first touch and cracking shot past Adrian.
Ten minutes after his goal Vardy was booked for a fair challenge on Kouyate, a decision by referee Jon Moss that would have big repercussions.
In an increasingly tight and physical encounter up to the break, Reid, Noble and Payet were all yellow carded.

Slaven Bilić brought Carroll on for the second half, setting up a Clash of the Titans, with Huth performing magnificently in City’s defence.
From a Payet corner Carroll headed well wide, and then at the other end Huth headed a Fuchs cross over.
Schlupp replaced Albrighton in the 54th minute and City came agonisingly close to extending their lead when a cross/shot from Okazaki evaded Vardy by half a yard at the far post.
The game then dramatically turned on a 58th minute incident.
Vardy and Ogbonna chased a ball into the penalty area, with the West Ham defenders hand on his shoulder Vardy appeared to cut across him and went flying.
Referee Moss judged it to be a dive, worthy of a yellow card and City’s leading scorer was dismissed on the strength of an earlier yellow that shouldn’t have happened.

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With the crowd in uproar Ulloa came on for Okazaki and City prepared to dig in and defend the lead.
Reid connected with a Payet cross from the right, but sent his effort into the side-netting. City were defending stoically, but no outlet ball to Vardy was seeing the pressure build. There was a nervy wait after Morgan was booked for fouling Carroll in the perfect spot for a Payet free-kick. After Amartey replaced Mahrez, Payet sent his free-kick sailing into the Family Stand, to general sighs of relief.
But under relentless West Ham pressure City finally cracked with five minutes remaining.
After constant wrestling matches in both areas referee Moss decided to award a soft one for Morgan putting his arms around Reid, no doubt influenced by a deputation of West Ham players urging him to be vigilant before the ball was even delivered.
Carroll sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his spot-kick, the first goal City had conceded since March 1st.
Like buses, the next one arrived two minutes later and this time there were no arguments as Cresswell latched onto a half clearance on the edge of the area and fired a magnificent shot inches under the bar.
City might have forgotten what it was like to go behind in a game, but they reacted well and, combined with another bizarre decision by the ref, managed to rescue a point.
Into time-added-on Huth was wrestled over by Ogbonna in a similar manner to incident that led to Morgan conceding a penalty, but Moss didn’t want to know, leading to prolonged chants of: “2-1, to the referee.”  

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Minutes later a challenge that looked a lot less like a penalty, as Schlupp and Carroll came together right on the edge of the area, saw Moss pointing to the spot.
With Mahrez and Vardy both absent, Ulloa stepped up to fire his spot-kick past Adrian sparking emotional scenes around the KPS.
Referee Moss was resoundingly booed off as his escort from the pitch had to avoid angry players from both sides, but Claudio Ranieri would not be drawn to comment: “I judge my players and not the referee. The referee watched this, it’s OK. If some players don’t play well or make mistakes, I speak with them and we try to improve their performance. The referee is not my matter.”
After a very tough afternoon City emerged 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with four games remaining. All eyes will now be on Stoke v Spurs tonight.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Mahrez (Amartey 78), Albrighton (Schlupp 54), Okazaki (Ulloa 59), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, King, Gray.
West Ham: Adrian, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Obiang (Carroll 46), Noble (Lanzini 63), Kouyate, Emenike, Payet, Moses (Valencia 72), Antonio. Subs Not Used: Randolph, Tomkins, Collins, Byram.

Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 32,104.

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Leicester regain top spot with a win at West Ham

West Ham United 1:2 Leicester City

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A hard fought 2-1 victory at Upton Park on Saturday saw City back on top of the Premier League…

Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged side for City’s last ever league game at Upton Park before next year’s move to the Olympic Park.
It was the Hammers who went close early on when Oxford got his head to a Payet free-kick and brushed the top of the crossbar.
City’s front two of Vardy and Okazaki were looking lively when City broke upofield, but Vardy earned himself an 11th minute booking, catching keeper Adrian as the pair contested a loose ball.
Sakho then fired narrowly over from close in, but his blushes were spared by an offside flag.
City then had a chance of their own when Mahrez drifted past two defenders in the penalty area, before Adrian blocked his stabbed effort at the near post.
As City enjoyed a great spell Huth went close with an overhead kick before the breakthrough arrived in the 27th miunute.
Vardy crossed for Okazaki, and though his original shot was well saved by Adrian the Japanese international followed up to nod the ball into an empty net to the delight of the Leicester fans in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
Ten minutes later they were celebrating again when great work from Albrighton down the left set up Mahrez for a well placed shot that gave Adrian no chance.
Schmeichel then got lucky when he looked to have impeded Sakho in the area, but the ref turned his back on West Ham’s appeals.
Kouyate’s header over the bar meant that City went in 2-0 up at the break, on a ground where they have won once since 1966 this seemed too good to be true.

City had more defending to do in the second half as West Ham tried to haul themselves back, and they breached City’s defence after ten minutes. Noble crossed for Payet whose shot cannoned into Sakho, but th eball was fed back to Payet who made no mistake with his second try, finding the top left hand corner.
With the home crowd now making plenty of noise City had to weather a storm, but they handled the pressure well.
Just after the hour Ranieri tightened things up bringing on Kanté for Okazaki and then Benalouane for De Laet.
City managed to quieten the crowd down again with a professional closing out of th egame and West Ham were reduced to crossfield passes that seldom penetrated the final third of the field.
City continued to create chances on the break but neither Mahrez from a free-kick, Albrighton or Drinkwater could hit the target.
West Ham’s big chance for a point came with 10 minutes to go, but Sakho sent his shot straight into the chest of Schmeichel.
As the game entered time added on the home side were then reduced to ten men. Keeper Adrian had come up for a corner, but in attempting to connect with the ball caught Vardy in the chest and was shown a straight red card.
City saw out the remaining couple of minutes to earn a fantastic victory that put them back on top of the Premier League, continuing Ranieri’s great start to the season.

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Oxford (Obiang 46), Kouyate (Lanzini 76), Noble, Payet, Sakho, Zarate (Maiga 82). Subs Not Used: Randolph, Nolan, Tomkins, Jarvis, Obiang.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (Benalouane 66), Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Albrighton, Drinkwater, King, Mahrez (Fuchs 82), Okazaki (Kanté 62), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hammond, Kanté, Kramarić, Ulloa, Maddison.

Referee: A Taylor. Attendance: 34,857.

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Leicester survive last chance saloon with a win against West Ham

Leicester City 2:1 West Ham United

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City handed themselves a lifeline with a hard-fought 2-1 win over West Ham at the KPS on Saturday.

I’m not normally a fan of corporate-led organised fun, but the ‘clappers’ fastened to every seat in the King Power Stadium appeared to have the effect of lifting the crowd participation beyond the usual L1 and Ultras Corner.
There was a definite atmosphere about the place that was different to the air of resignation of recent months.
Perhaps it was also the realisation that this really was City’s last chance to launch a Great Escape bid.

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Nigel Pearson made one change to his side with Mahrez returning for the injured Upson in a more attacking line-up.
And, roared on by a near sell-out crowd, City made early progress taking a 12th minute lead.
A loose ball sat up nicely for Cambiasso just outside the area and his sweetly struck half-volley flew past Adrián and into the net.
City’s great start should have been even better after a quarter of an hour when Ulloa was floored by Jenkinson in the area for a penalty so obvious that even Leicester were awarded it. Adrián strolled up to Nugent and had a word in his ear before the penalty kick, before producing a fine save to his left, although he was clearly yards off his line.
Sakho almost equalised soon after but was denied by Schlupp, as West Ham enjoyed their best spell of the game.
This lead to an equaliser in the 32nd minute when Schlupp misjudged Song’s lofted ball, missing his attempted header and  leaving Kouyaté free to pick his spot past Schmeichel.

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1-1 at the break, Albrighton replaced Mahrez for the second half and City were on the front foot once again.
They were struggling to get an effort on target, however. Huth headed wide from a Cambiasso free-kick and then Schlupp fired well wide after being sent in on the left. Vardy then went close with a header, before firing a shot wide after being played in by Nugent.
But West Ham were always dangerous on the break: Downing fired a shot narrowly wide and then Sakho’s low drive hit the foot of the left hand post as the game developed into a genuine end-to-end thriller.
Schmeichel produced a fine save to deny Kouyaté, while Reid blocked a Nugent shot.
Pearson brought Kramarić on for Ulloa and then King for De Laet as City pursued the win they so desperately needed.
It looked as though Kramarić would surely put City ahead with 7 minutes to go, but Cresswell blocked his shot on the line with a superb piece of defending.
City’s big moment finally arrived in the 87th minute, and no one cared that it was a scrappy goal. From a James free-kick Vardy’s mis-cued shot trundled to King who prodded it home via Adrián’s knee, the roar of delight nearly lifting the roof off the stadium.

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Soon after Vardy missed a one-on-one chance against the keeper, but neither that, or the penalty miss, mattered when the final whistle heralded a long-awaited victory.
QPR’s win at West Brom meant that City remained bottom, but this result and the manner in which it was gained, gave back a little hope to the fans who have stood by their club in a tough season.

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (King 79), Morgan, James, Vardy, Huth, Schlupp, Cambiasso, Ulloa (Kramarić 72), Mahrez (Albrighton 46), Nugent. Subs Not Used: Konchesky, Drinkwater, Wasilewski, Schwarzer.
West Ham: Adrián, Reid, Cresswell, Nolan (Amalfitano 65), Kouyaté, Downing, Sakho (Cole 79), Noble, Jenkinson, Collins, Song (Nenê 88). Subs Not Used: Jarvis, O’Brien, Demel, Jääskeläinen.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 31,863.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Ex-Leicester City and Manchester United boss says thanks…

Following on from our interview with ex-Leicester City, Manchester United and Iran boss Frank O’Farrell is a message from Frank in reply to us sending him a letter of thanks and a copy of The Fox…

“Many thanks for sending me a copy of The Fox.
The article on me turned out well and I’m pleased to learn it was enjoyed by all.
I’ve recently come back from Preston where I was celebrating Tom Finney’s 90th birthday along with the few players who are now left who had played with him.
I send my best wishes to all my friends in Leicester and will continue to watch City’s results hoping that next season will be a fruitful one with a return to the top tier of English football…
It was nice meeting you,

yours sincerely

Frank…”

Interview Extract…

FOX: In the middle of that Championship season you had Peter Shilton in dispute with the club and then it was resolved and you went on a fantastic run to the end of the season. What happened there?

FO’F: We talked to him a lot. I really didn’t want to let him go, no bloody way in the middle of a season. You never know what has got to a player. They may have been tapped up, they may be short of money. He was worried about playing in the Second Division, but my priority was success for the club and I wasn’t letting him go. I had to let him know that I really meant it and I think I won that altercation. Although he was in dispute with us and would rather have been somewhere else at that point he always gave his best, never fluffed the job. That was one thing I admired about him.

If I had stayed longer I would probably have ended up selling him, having had time to find a replacement. He would have commanded a big fee which could have been used elsewhere in the team. He was a disruption at times, but I did quite like him. When he came down to Plymouth I went over to say hello to him.
I could see his side of it, he was very ambitious. I said to him: “If you are the best goalkeeper then Alf Ramsey will pick you.” And he did.

+++++

FOX: How did you get on with George Best?

FO’F: He was a smashing person, a really likeable person. I liked him more than some of the people you feel you should like more. His shortcomings hung out for all to see, but he was so engaging and bright and was no trouble in training, when he was actually there. He’d stay after training to do some more shooting. But you never knew if he would turn up the next day. I’d have him in the office and he’d be: “Yes boss, no boss, three bags full boss.” And then he’d just go out and do the same thing the next week. Then the other players would moan about him.

One week we played Wolves and George had been missing all week. His landlady rang up to say that he had returned from Ireland and could play. What George didn’t know was that I’d been to his parents house in Ireland that week and he certainly wasn’t there. It was the time of the troubles and I had thought that maybe if we brought his parents over he could live with them and that might cure his instability.
George had agreed this was a good idea so I’d gone over to Ireland discuss the club buying a house for them in Manchester. The club were so dependent on him having a stable life.

So when his landlady rang and said he’d been in Ireland with his parents I knew he had lied to me and there was no way I could play him. I dropped him for a home game against Wolves and we lost 2-0. They just weren’t good enough without him. The club was in a fragile state and it took a long time for them to recover. They had to go down to the Second Division under Tommy Docherty to rebuild.

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City Ironed Out

Leicester City 1:2 West Ham United

City’s hugely disappointing 2011-12 season signed off at the KPS on Monday night, in unseasonal end-of-season weather, and with a defeat to promotion-chasing West Ham…

Nigel Pearson made one change to his side with King in for Dyer, but the City winger was soon back in action, replacing the injured Wellens after just 20 minutes.
He was soon motoring down the left, beating his marker for pace before delivering a corner that was headed wide by Beckford.
This was after Vaz Te and Cole had both gone close to piercing City’s defence.
City then delievered a blow to West Ham’s promotion hopes in the 34th minute when Marshall’s cross from the right saw a slackly marked Beckford rise to nod home.
Sadly City’s lead only lasted five minutes. Taylor’s low cross from the left found Reid who tucked it home unopposed from three yards out.
It almost got worse for City with Tomkins sending a header inches wide just before the break.
West Ham upped their game in the second half, after City brought St ledger on for King and pushed Bamba forward.
In the 56th minute Noble went close with a shot on the turn, and then West Ham took the lead two minutes later. St Ledger blocked O’Neill’s shot but Collison lashed home the rebound giving Scmeichel no chance.
West Ham, in desperate need of a win to stay on Southampton’s heels, were in no mood to surrender their precious lead and City rarely threatened in the remaining half hour, despite the introduction of Waghorn for a tired looking Nugent.
West Ham take their fight for an automatic spot to the final week of the season while City were left to reflect on their inability to consistently blend as a team. This was then put into perspective as news broke of a personal tragedy suffered by Paul Gallagher and his wife Hayley… our thoughts are with them.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Morgan, Bamba, Konchesky, Wellens (Dyer 22), Drinkwater, Marshall, King (St Ledger 46), Nugent (Waghorn 65), Beckford. Unused Subs: Howard, Vassell.

West Ham: Green, Demel (Faubert 76), Tomkins, Reid, Taylor, Collison (Lansbury 88), O’Neill, Noble, Nolan, Vaz Te, Cole (Collins 81). Unused Subs: Baldock, Bouba-Diop.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear). Attendance: 23,172.

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