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Leicester City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
King Power Stadium, Thursday January 31st, 2013
Leicester City were pushed all the way in this fiercely competitive Championship fixture, Wolverhampton Wanderers evidently galvanized since the arrival of Dean Saunders and looking for a first League double over Leicester since 1958. Belying their lowly league position, Wanderers were in the game throughout, out-done in the end by two counter-attacking moves which were finished with aplomb by Anthony Knockaert and David Nugent either side of the break, Bakary Sako’s exocet for a while looking to have gained a deserved point for the West Midlands visitors.
Making four changes from the side that drew at Huddersfield at the weekend, Nigel Pearson recalled Chris Wood and David Nugent up front, Danny Drinkwater and Anthony Knockaert returning in midfield while Wolves also made a quartet of changes, Danny Batth making a full debut in place of the suspended Roger Johnson, Bjorn Sigurdarson, Stephen Ward and Tongo Doumbia coming into a five man midfield.
Having held on to beat Leicester at home earlier this season, Wolves have found things very tough this campaign, former Manager Stale Solbakken replaced by Dean Saunders at the beginning of January but the visitors still looking for a first win in eight games in all competitions and bottom of the Championship form table. Leicester meanwhile were hoping for a fifth consecutive league win, boasting the only 100% Championship record in 2013, and having lost only once at home to Wanderers in the last twenty league encounters.
The visitors kicked-off attacking the Kop end but were soon under pressure at the other end of the pitch, Christophe Berra blocking a Knockaert effort early on as City looked to make home advantage pay, Nugent and Knockaert sending long range efforts off target as the hosts bossed the opening fifteen minutes.
Chris Wood’s dipping volley flew just over as Leicester pressed for the breakthrough, and it came in the 24th minute from City’s number 24, ANTHONY KNOCKAERT collecting Kasper Schmeichel’s long throw down the right and dancing into the area before finding the top corner despite the valiant efforts of former Foxes loanee Carl Ikeme.
Saunders’ Wolves side refused to lie down though, their response immediate and requiring both a switched-on City defence and a slice of luck as Sigurdarson missed his kick before Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s follow-up was blocked by Paul Konchesky while at the other end a clever dummy by Nugent presented Ben Marshall with a glorious chance to make it 2-0 just before the break but the winger somehow managed to scoop his shot over the bar from six yards.
Another frustratingly poor referee had his part to play as the visitors got back into the game five minutes after the re-start, the official ignoring a clear hand-ball just before BAKARY SAKO unleashed an unstoppable low drive which flew past Schmeichel in the fifty-first minute, and the goal gave rise to a greater belief from the side in old gold.
Fortunate not to go behind again immediately when Wood sliced wide in front of goal, Wolves went close themselves with another powerful Sako effort but, despite enjoying arguably their best spell of the game, Wolves found themselves chasing the game again in the seventy-third minute after a break by NUGENT saw the forward cut in off the left hand side before curling a trademark effort past Ikeme and into the far right hand corner, harsh on Wanderers who threw on three late substitutes to try and grab something from the game, midfielders Peszko, Edwards and Davis coming on for Sigurdarson, Henry and Doumbia, but to no avail as Sako shot straight at Schmeichel after another blatant foul on Andy King was ignored, Ebanks-Blake’s shot on the turn which clipped the outside of the post the last act of an entertaining game.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID
"I will be the first to admit we have played better. But credit to Wolves, who played with a lot of spirit and made life difficult for us with five in midfield, so it was nice to win a tight game like this with two bits of quality. The irony is that we scored our goals on the counter-attack and in the second half we really had to grind it out. It was a calculated risk to play Knockaert because he had had an ankle injury. But he worked very hard for the side in both directions. I was very pleased with his contribution."
- Leicester City Manager Nigel Pearson
"I thought we played well but missed our chances. We had at least 10 clear cut chances and then got done twice on the counter attack. For the first goal we backed off and let the lad get into the six-yard box. It was not the best defending but when you lose as many games as we have done you lose belief. I think we became over confident and we should have stopped Nugent right where he picked up the ball on the half way line."
- Wolves Manager Dean Saunders
Possession: LCFC 50% - 50% WWFC
Shots (On Target): LCFC 12 (5) - 10 (5) WWFC
Corners: LCFC 4 - 9 WWFC
Fouls: LCFC 4 - 8 WWFC
Bookings: LCFC 0 - 1 WWFC (Foley)
01 Schmeichel (7)
02 De Laet (6)
03 Konchesky (7)
05 Morgan (8) STAR MAN
15 M Keane (7)
04 Drinkwater (7)
07 Marshall (7) (Dyer 69)
10 King (6)
24 Knockaert (7) (Vardy 76)
35 Nugent (7) (Waghorn 90)
39 Wood (6)
11 Dyer (6)
09 Vardy (6)
14 Waghorn N/S
13 Ikeme (7)
13 Ikeme (7)
11 Ward (7)
16 Berra (7)
25 Batth (6)
32 Foley (6)
08 Henry (7) (Edwards 81)
10 Sako (7)
24 O'Hara (7)
28 Doumbia (6) (Davis 82)
09 Ebanks-Blake (7)
15 Sigurdarson (5) (Peszko 77)
31 De Vries
31 De Vries
04 Edwards N/S
07 Peszko (6)
26 Davis N/S
Referee: Robert Madley (3) Terrible.
Attendance: 21,677 (772 Wolves)
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… (Useless Information No. 0048)
Wolves’ Assistant Manager is none other than former Foxes flop Brian Carey, the former Manchester United trainee going on to become a Wrexham legend and Dean Saunders Assistant at The Racecourse Ground, Doncaster Rovers and now Molineux.
©Bentleys Roof 2013