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Leicester City 6-1 Huddersfield Town
King Power Stadium, January 1st, 2013
Debutante Chris Wood made a spectacular start to his Leicester City career with a first-half brace against a shell-shocked Huddersfield Town, the £1.25M West Brom signing instrumental as The Foxes ran riot with a 6-1 demolition. The six foot three striker gave Leicester an attacking platform which had not always been there this season, giving license to strike partner David Nugent and mercurial Frenchman Anthony Knockaert in particular with the latter bagging a brace of his own, his second the impudent icing on a very satisfying cake for Nigel Pearson.
Former City Player Of The Season Simon Grayson made three changes to his starting eleven, Lee Novak making his 100th Town appearance in place of loanee Simon Church who has returned to parent club Reading, while another pair of loan signings swap places, one-time Leicester loanee James Vaughan coming in for Jermaine Beckford who is ineligible. Former Falkirk midfielder Scott Arfield also comes in for Chris Atkinson in a 4-5-1 formation. Nigel Pearson brought-in Manchester United loanee Michael Keane for Liam Moore in the centre of defence and gave a debut to Chris Wood, who was technically on a short-term loan pending the completion of his transfer, Lloyd Dyer making way.
Having comfortably dispatched Huddersfield at The John Smith’s Stadium at the end of October, City were no doubt be full of confidence, particularly Anthony Knockaert who scored both goals in the game, his second the breathtaking back-heel volley which will take some beating for goal of the season. Having taken only five points since beating Barnsley on November 10th, The Terriers were very much in the doldrums as pressure mounts on Grayson after their decent start to their first season back in The Championship.
The game couldn’t have started much better for Leicester, the hosts attacking the Kop end, with Knockaert beating long-serving keeper Alex Smithies to a bouncing ball, the Frenchman’s effort trickling agonising close to the goal line but adjudged to have been cleared before it had crossed inside the first thirty seconds. Smithies then saved from Wood after being set-up by Matty James but the Kiwi wasn’t to be denied, nodding-in to make it 1-0 in the sixth minute after David Nugent’s initial header had been parried.
The combination of Nugent and Wood was looking extremely promising and the scouser brought another good save out of the Huddersfield-born keeper eleven minutes in after combining well with his new attacking partner, but Huddersfield started to get into the game, prompting fears of another Barnsley-esque switch-off. Those fears were snuffed-out in the 24th minute when Nugent broke down the right, pulling-back for the unmarked WOOD who stroked home off the inside of the left hand post.
To their credit, Town continued to try and play football, switching to a 4-4-2 formation, but they were constantly pegged-back by the home side, Knockaert on fire and the ex Man Utd pairing of Danny Drinkwater and Matty James totally controlling the midfield. As half-time approached, City’s Gallic due of Knockaert and DE LAET combined down the right with the Belgian powering home a third from a tight angle to claim his first City goal, Leicester irresistible in the first 45 minutes.
Formerly an ever-present this season, Alex Smithies was replaced by veteran Ian Bennett at the break, the Terriers number one suffering a dead-leg in the first half as the 41-year-old made his 550th career appearance, but Bennett was to receive a baptism of fire. The simplest of moves, Wood found Paul Konchesky on the over-lap and the Londoner pulled-back for KNOCKAERT who made no mistake from twelve yards with just four minutes of the half played.
Huddersfield must be sick of the sight of Leicester winger as the diminutive Frenchman made it 5-0 three minutes later, robbing the poor Joel Lynch down the right, KNOCKAERT danced between defenders Wallace and Southern before curling a delightful shot past Bennett as City ran riot, although allowing the visitors a consolation to the evident chagrin of Kasper Schmeichel, the otherwise anonymous SCOTT ARFIELD tapping-in after the Dane had parried his initial effort, the former Scotland U21’s first goal of the season.
The goal buoyed The Terriers briefly, with Arfield heading over a Jack Hunt cross before Adam Hammill, once linked with Leicester, fired over but City were going close themselves, Knockaert cutting in from the right and curling an effort an inch wide of the top corner before being replaced with a standing ovation from the near twenty-six thousand crowd.
It was tough to pick a Man-Of-The-Match for the hosts, but Wood pipped-it over Knockaert with another assist for substitute MARTYN WAGHORN, who volleyed home after the Kiwi’s header back across goal from a fine cross to the far post by Konchesky in the 76th minute.
The introduction of Lloyd Dyer for Ben Marshall gave Leicester fresh impetus, and the winger ran Huddersfield’s defence ragged in a passage of play which, like the home crowd, cried out for a seventh but the City number eleven couldn’t beat Bennett with a low shot before his reliance on his left foot took him across the face of the penalty area and ultimately away from goal. Fellow substitute Paul Gallagher sent a thirty yard effort just over the bar close to the end and it finished 6-1 to Leicester, the result lifting The Foxes to within three points of the teams in third and fourth place but with a much superior goal difference, but still five points behind Hull who occupy second spot.
The distraction of the FA Cup at the weekend sees a chance for revenge over Burton Albion who dumped The Foxes out of the League Cup earlier this season, before an away game at Bristol City where City will be wanting to maintain momentum.
Happy New Year Everyone!
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID
"The players have shown a lot of character. Chris Wood played a very positive part in what was a very good team performance. His attributes fit the bill for what we are looking for. He is a team player and works very hard and shows a lot of football intelligence as well. It is pleasing that that he has got off to such a good start but it is about the group. All our forwards have a lot of flair and potential and we now have a lot of options moving forward. It was a thoroughly professional performance today." - Leicester manager Nigel Pearson "We wanted to start the new year in a positive manner but today could not have been any worse for us. We wanted to be hard to beat and make sure it was a difficult afternoon for Leicester and make sure they didn't have an easy ride, but the way we started the game allowed them to dictate to us what they wanted to do. And before we knew it we were a couple of goals down and too many times made the wrong decisions." - Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson STATS Possession: LCFC 64% - 36% HTFC Shots (On Target): LCFC 15 (9) - 5 (2) HTFC Corners: LCFC 6 - 6 HTFC Fouls: LCFC 6 - 3 HTFC Bookings: LCFC 0 - 1 HTFC (Lynch) MATCH RATINGS
"The players have shown a lot of character. Chris Wood played a very positive part in what was a very good team performance. His attributes fit the bill for what we are looking for. He is a team player and works very hard and shows a lot of football intelligence as well. It is pleasing that that he has got off to such a good start but it is about the group. All our forwards have a lot of flair and potential and we now have a lot of options moving forward. It was a thoroughly professional performance today."
- Leicester manager Nigel Pearson
"We wanted to start the new year in a positive manner but today could not have been any worse for us. We wanted to be hard to beat and make sure it was a difficult afternoon for Leicester and make sure they didn't have an easy ride, but the way we started the game allowed them to dictate to us what they wanted to do. And before we knew it we were a couple of goals down and too many times made the wrong decisions."
- Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson
Possession: LCFC 64% - 36% HTFC
Shots (On Target): LCFC 15 (9) - 5 (2) HTFC
Corners: LCFC 6 - 6 HTFC
Fouls: LCFC 6 - 3 HTFC
Bookings: LCFC 0 - 1 HTFC (Lynch)
01 Schmeichel (7) Had little to do but looked assured.
02 De Laet (8) Excellent throughout.
03 Konchesky (7) A comfortable afternoon.
05 Morgan (8) Kept danger-man Vaughan quiet.
15 M Keane (7) Quietly composed.
04 Drinkwater (8) Bossed midfield with James.
07 Marshall (6) Little impact. (Dyer 66)
16 James (8) Probably his best game for Leicester.
24 Knockaert (9) Worth the entry fee alone. (Gallagher 74)
35 Nugent (8) Linked up brilliantly with Wood. (Waghorn 57)
39 Wood (9) Created a platform for everything good on the day. STAR MAN
11 Dyer (6) Missed two good chances.
17 Gallagher (6) Lively cameo.
14 Waghorn (7) Took his goal well.
Huddersfield Town (5)
01 Smithies (6) Exposed. (Bennett 46)
06 Gerrard (6) Couldn’t handle Wood.
15 Wallace (5) All at sea.
33 Lynch (4) Poor. (Dixon 55)
08 Clayton (6) Neat and tidy. (Norwood 81)
14 Hammill (6) No impact.
16 Arfield (5) Goal aside, anonymous.
24 Southern (5) Chasing shadows.
32 Hunt (5) Never in the game.
09 Novak (5) By-passed out wide.
18 Vaughan (7) Town’s best player.
13 Bennett (6) Made a couple of saves.
03 Dixon (5) Barely any better than Lynch.
05 P Clarke
04 Norwood N/S
Referee: Mark Haywood (7) The best referee this season.
Attendance: 25,913 (855 Away)
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING (Useless Information No. 0044)
Only just 21, Chris Wood has played for New Zealand 29 times, scoring 10 goals. He was the youngest player in The All Whites World Cup Squad in South Africa 2010.
© Bentleys Roof 2013