CITY 3 HUDDERSFIELD 0
Report by Eddie Blount
The unanimous pre-match view amongst my little band of co-supporters was that this game was going to make hard watching. Those of us who had seen Huddersfield at home against Man City playing never less than 10 men behind the ball were convinced that ‘parking the bus’ would be the order of the day.
Our fears that this would not be much of a spectacle were enhanced by news that Vardy was not in the squad and Gray was on the bench, though this non-existent piece of wood was also graced by the debut presence of Adrien Silva finally permitted by the footballing authorities to ply his trade at Leicester.
Well, the first half fully justified our pre-match misgivings! It was virtually devoid of incident and attacking ideas. Ndidi, another good display from the youngster by the way, shot horribly wide when the ball fell to him after a set piece early on and that was about it!
Slimani was playing up front with Okazaki, probably for the first time, at least that’s how it looked and neither made any real impression in an ultimately turgid first half which, to be fair, had started promisingly with some delightful, quick inter-passing from City inspired by the return after a long injury lay-off of Matty James. The midfielder lasted for over 80 minutes and played encouragingly well, mobile and passing the ball thoughtfully and accurately, albeit somewhat reluctant to commit to the tackle, though Ndidi does enough for two men so the fit was good.
Strangely enough the two best chances of the half fell to Huddersfield! Both came shortly after City’s deceptively encouraging start and both fell to Danny Williams. The first opportunity was a simple ball straight down the middle which put him just clear. Maguire caught him as the pair reached the edge of the penalty area and Williams tried to draw the foul rather than put his efforts into scoring and tumbled over. Referee Graham Scott officiated sensibly throughout and waived away the Terriers’ protests.
The abysmal John Marsh and provocative Mike Dean would have seen this as an opportunity to be centre-stage and a penalty plus probably a red card would have been a great temptation for them! Williams compounded his error moments later when a second chance from the edge of the box was screwed wide. That was to be the last time Huddersfield had a semblance of a real chance to score.
The half -time consensus was that our only chance of a goal was if Mahrez, quiet in the first half, could produce a piece of characteristic magic. How right we were! City began the half with serious intent. We even had a ball into the box that Slimani could head, albeit straight at the keeper, but it felt like a new beginning.
Minutes later we were in front with a delightful goal. Long throw by Fuchs headed partly clear but only to Albrighton, outstanding again, who hooked the ball over his shoulder into the danger area beyond the back four at the far post. Mahrez was unmarked and his chipped volley from a tight angle curled deliciously into the far corner!
The reaction of some Huddersfield defenders gave the clue that the game was over. Seven minutes later it was! Mahrez was again heavily involved, picking up a ball just inside their half as City cleared their lines he spotted the storming run of Slimani who bore down on the onrushing keeper and chipped the ball elegantly over him and into the goal. A striker’s finish which might be a landmark in Slimani’s Leicester career.
City were totally dominant now and twice more had the ball in the opposing net only for both to be, rightly, ruled out, the first for a push by Okazki and the second for offside against Albrighton. We almost had the third goal which would have confirmed the gulf which had opened up between these two sides although cheek by jowl in the Premiership table. This came when the excellent Ndidid headed Mahrez’s corner firmly against the Huddersfield bar before they scrambled the ball away. It only postponed the inevitable. At the death a shot from sub Gray fell obligingly to the ever-dangerous Albrighton who scored convincingly. Stories that he may make the England squad for Russia are worth serious consideration.
So a boring, lifeless and uninspiring display had transmogrified into a feast of attacking football with the sort of quality goals which are beginning to be associated with the ex-Premier League champions. A word of praise for the two full backs, Fuchs and Amartey, especially the latter who played with great spirit and no little skill. Again he is a mere youngster! Dragovic, on in the first half when skipper, Morgan, went off with a hamstring injury, was never under any real pressure, but did all that was required and the defence looked commendably firm, although facing one of the weakest attacks in the division.
Finally a word of praise for Silva’s ten-minute cameo appearance as a late substitute. I was impressed in the same way that Kante impressed me when he first appeared as a sub. Watch this space. One minute we are facing a dearth of midfielders then two come along at once!
City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Morgan (Dragovic 28), Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray 77), James (Silva 85),Albrighton,Okazaki, Slimani
Huddersfield: Lossl, Smith (Depoitre82), Jorgensen, Schindler, Lowe (Malone76), Mooy, Williams, Lolley (Quaner59), Ince, Van la Parra, Mounie
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation