Crisp Leicester Out Fox Blades
Saturday 26th December
United's dismal Boxing Day record continued at Leicester -wouldn't it be nice to play at home for a change! - and the seven game undefeated run came to an end.
In a great advert for Championship football, the old cliche of 'a game of two halves' was never more accurate. What the game lacked in quality it more than made up for in sheer effort and determination by both sides.
Blades started brightly, with a Cresswell through ball finding Stewart on the edge of the box but he shot straight at Weale when a bit more control would have opened the scoring.
It was clear that City's defense were wary of Ward's pace down the right, one blatant body check winning a free kick but going unpunished by referee Deadman. The early exchanges saw City aiming everything towards Howard as City began to force themselves on the game. The lumbering Howard went straight through Kyle Walker from behind, an injury which later forced him off, the full back taking several minutes to recover.
Wellens and Dyer tested United's defense then Mark Bunn came to the rescue three times in as many minutes. City forced a series of corners, Bunn tipped Howard's deflected header over, then Montgomery's sliced clearance attempt made Bunn work again in the 17th minute.
The Foxes were well into their stride now, and United were having to work very hard to contain the attacks coming down the flanks where Walker was still feeling the effects of the earlier tackle and Ward was tracking back well. City had a shout for a penalty when a ball into the box struck Kilgallon on the upper arm though it was clearly ball to arm.
Morrison's rising 25 yarder was over, touched by Bunn according to the referee, but from the resulting corner MORRISON stooped to head in at Bunn's far post after the keeper had failed to get to the ball through a crowd of players on 25 minutes.
United hit back with a corner vollyed over by Stewart, then on 34 minutes, City doubled their lead. FRYATT scoring from the spot. The same player running away from goal came across a stray Montgomery leg and gratefully went over it dramatically. Referee Deadlegs, clearly unsighted, initially let play go then heard the crowd and thought better of it and pointed to the spot.
United tried to hit back and with Ward screaming for the ball in a good central position, Stewart held on too long and the chance was gone. United were still struggling to get any rhythm into the game and were almost punished again by first Oakley then a Wellen's shot as the half ended.
Camara replaced Taylor at the start of the second half as United moved to a 4-4-2 and within a minute CAMARA had scored the crucial third goal. Ward crossed, Quinn helped it on and Camara turned to slip the ball under Weale.
Walker eventually hobbled off to be replaced by Del Boy in the 48th minute, as The Blades pushed forward for an equaliser. Harper was at the centre of most attacking moves, holding and finding the wide players with some accurate passing. Camara shot wide from a Ward cross, then Leicester were back in the game as Bunn pushed shots from Dyer then Howard wide. Corners at both ends followed, then Howard shot over with panic all around him in United's area, the big man hitting the turf with amazing ease at the mere hint of a touch. Henderson could learn a lot from this man!
Then from a Camara pass, Ward saw his shot pushed over by the keeper on 64 minutes as United poured forward, led by the influential Harper whose curling free kick was missed by everyone and just caught by the keeper on his line. Then Ward centered for Morgan in the clear to head wide when it looked easier to score, Camara tried a spectacular overhead which went wide, then Ward lashed in an angled 25 yarder after the offside flag had gone up, and United continued to press.
Harper's great ball to Quinn kept the pressure on, then Monty was replaced by Evans on 73 minutes as Blackwell pushed for the equaliser. With strikers all over the place, Camara managed to get in the way of Cresswell's on target header then Weale missed a Ward corner which went out for a corner on the opposite side, then Evans got in the way of a Cresswell shot after a move started by Harper came to nothing.
City were now happy to defend their lead but there was still time for Bunn to fumble at one end and for the referee to award a free kick against Morgan at the other as Weale looked for a body to collide with. Three minutes of injury time was added as City wound down the clock.