City thwarted by strong defence.

Leicester City 1- Southampton 2

Report by Chris Griffin

Despite playing against ten men for the second half Leicester could not unlock a battling and well-drilled defence, apart from Ndidi’s short range effort on the hour mark. By then Leicester had conceded two first half goals.

The first, a penalty, was confidently put away by Ward-Prowse after Mendy’s unnecessary and clumsy challenge on Long after ten minutes. The second came in first half overtime when Southampton countered quickly from deep. Pereira and Mendy both failed to clear and Long cut in to side foot past Schmeichel from a tight angle: the keeper’s block possibly diverting the ball into the net.

Some booing came from sections of the crowd at the final whistle and the media latched onto speculation about the future of manager Puel. When asked if he felt under pressure he replied “It’s not my concern.” On the result he commented that it was a big disappointment. “It’s difficult to accept the second goal…we had a lot of chances and opportunities. It was important to try to manage the game with intensity in our passes. It was difficult to be clinical and maybe we needed a bit more movement in the box.”

As a judgement it is difficult to disagree – except to add that as well as passing lacking intensity it also lacked accuracy. The first half saw pass after pass go astray either through under or over hitting. In the second, despite reaching the by-line time after time the ball played across the goal did not pick out a City player. Ndidi’s goal was the exception following an accurate cross from Pereira.

Even before the penalty Southampton had three opportunities. A good run by Armstrong saw his firm low shot pass wide of the post. He then had an effort blocked well by Mendy. From the resulting corner Long headed just wide. City were trying to push forward but looked vulnerable to the counter attack. One of these saw Maddison receive a yellow card for pulling back Redmond on the halfway line.

City’s play lacked cohesion. There were flashes of promise such as a surging run from Choudhury but his pass to Albrighton was overhit. On the 30th minute came City’s best chance when Maguire sent a header from a Chilwell cross flashing past the post.

Leicester won another free kick on the left touch line when Valery clattered Chilwell. Both received yellow cards: Valery for the challenge and Chilwell for his reaction. From the free kick came another near miss with Morgan’s sliding effort blocked on the line. Then Maddison crossed and again Maguire won the header but McCarthy saved. Close to half time Valery was given a second yellow for pulling back Albrighton as he latched onto a through ball outside the area.

Barnes, on return from his loan spell at West Bromwich Albion and Gray replaced Mendy and Albrighton for the start of the second half. There followed 45 minutes of total City domination of possession with Maguire spending most of the half as a supporting midfielder. It was Maguire’s long-range shot that saw McCarthy get down smartly and punched away the ball following a late deflection. McCarthy performed a similar save from a fierce Maddison effort on the 52nd minute. Maddison then had another effort blocked.

Ndidi’s goal gave some hope. Gray and Maddison interchanged some smart passes at pace before releasing Pereira whose pass picked out the unmarked Ndidi. Minutes later a really good cross from Pereira had just too much dip and swerve on it, beating both defenders and attackers as it flew close to the far corner of the net. Then Maddison whipped in an excellent cross but Vardy could not put enough purchase on his header.

Leicester had plenty of space down both flanks to attack with Chilwell and Pereira frequently in advanced positions. But the final ball too often found a defender. It was hard to understand why City persisted with high balls into the box which were easily dealt with by the imposing and tall Southampton defenders. City resorted to longer range efforts, including one from Ghezzal who had replaced Choudhury, but these were blocked and cleared. Barnes had a chance coming in from the left but – under challenge – could not get enough power and direction on his shot.

With seconds remaining City won a corner which saw Schmeichel come up into the opposing penalty area. From the corner Ndidi’s header flew just wide of the post: close, but not close enough.

Like last season City’s form at home continues to frustrate fans. At the start of play Southampton were 11 places below City and 15 points adrift. Whenever a team comes and parks the bus – although to be fair to Southampton most of their bus-parking came after they went down to ten men – City struggle.

Fans comment that Vardy lacks support from another striker but the club gives no sign of taking action on this – and JV must also be looking back wistfully to the days when he had Drinkwater behind him with the guile and creativity to provide defence splitting passes to run onto at pace. It is hard to fault the effort and energy of the players, but finding a way through the dense traffic of massed defences in home games has to be a priority

Wolves next week: no matter how good our away form – that will not be easy.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Pereira; Morgan; Maguire; Chilwell; Choudhury (Ghezzal 76’); Mendy (Barnes 45’); Ndidi; Albrighton (Gray 45’); Vardy; Maddison. Subs not used: Simpson; Soyuncu; Iheanacho; Ward.

Southampton: McCarthy; Bednarek; Stephens; Vesetrgaard; Valery; Romeu; Ward-Prowse; Targett; Redmond (Gallagher 93’); Armstrong (Soares 57’); Long (Slattery 76’). Subs not used: Elyounoussi; Gunn; Sims; Ramsay.

Referee: Michael Oliver.     Attendance: 31,491

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

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Embarrassing

Newport County 2 Leicester City 1

Emirates FA Cup – 6 January 2019

Match Report by Colin Murrant

Such is the loss in prestige of the grand old FA Cup competition, that the chat in the pub before the match was more about another away ground visited than the fixture itself. No one under 72 was born the last time City played at Newport so this was an opportunity to get another ground ticked off the 92.

The FA themselves have done their best to devalue their premier competition over recent years by spreading fixtures over four days, playing the semi-finals at Wembley, playing the final at 5.00 pm for American audiences. In fact, through play-offs and mediocre competitions, the glamour of playing at Wembley is not what it was.

On top of this the Clubs themselves put out second string teams yet still say ‘we take the competition seriously’; seriously, do you?? City are more culpable than most in this respect, whilst Fulham are facing a Premier League survival battle, City sit comfortably on 31 points and are not going to be relegated unless they endure a crash of biblical proportions.

So, as in the Carabao Cup semi-final, we were serious about the competition but apparently not that serious. There may well be an argument over resting players after the busy Christmas/New Year schedule, if that is the case then what was evident is the lack of depth to the current squad.

The firing line is non-existent without Vardy, to think in the same round of the Cup two seasons ago Musa scored a brace playing the Vardy role. Iheanacho and Okazaki offer nothing up front, the loss of any impact from the latter is now quite conspicuous. To think 3 strikers left the Club in the summer, each had their critics, but each offered more than what we have in reserve now.

Midfield creativity is sadly lacking, there was nothing yesterday until Maddison came on at half time, City were reliant on long, lofted high balls that were totally ineffective against a resolute team. Whilst we lacked such creative skills it begged the question why has Silva not been given a run in the team, same for Iborra who was in Spain securing his move to Villareal.

The new City style of play has involved the full-backs pushing forward in attack, Chilwell (not in the squad) and Ricardo (bench warming for 90 minutes) are the two that perform this role, their replacements Fuchs and Simpson cannot. Monsieur Puel, in his wisdom, decided on Sunday that he needed to change his right full back after 60 minutes.

Logically this should have been to bring on December player of the month Ricardo, but no, Albrighton was moved back.  The same Albrighton who has always looked uncomfortable in that position, including being red carded at Crystal Palace last season. Again, the decision was going to prove pivotable.

As we crossed the bridge over the River Usk, a few metres from the Rodney Parade ground, the muddy banks made one wonder what the pitch was going to be like. In all honesty, the pitch was bumpy but perfectly dry and playable, and in no way impacted the result. The stadium had an eeriness about it, the floodlights were far below what is witnessed in the Premier League, the low level of light afforded gave a somewhat subdued atmosphere to the proceedings.  In spite of this, the 1000 plus City fans who had travelled to South Wales were initially in good spirit. ‘Vichai had a dream…’ rang out from the open seating in the South stand as the match kicked off with Leicester attacking that end, surely the result was not in doubt, or so we thought.

It took all of ten minutes for the optimism to give way to doubt. Willmott outpaced Fuchs and, from the wing swung in a superb ball that Matt, easily out-jumping Morgan, headed into the net off the far post. Newport were organised, robust and put bodies on the line to thwart City. Matt had another chance for the home side but Ward saved well. City’s most threatening moment came when Fuchs made a good run and, cutting in from the by-line, laid the ball to Albrighton whose shot was deflected up and over.

Another strange decision was made when the seemingly unwanted Andy King came on as substitute in what may be his last City appearance. Having read up on previous match statistics, in 1947 Leicester last beat Newport 3-0, a certain Johnny King scored twice – the thought crossed my mind, could it happen again? Sadly No.

The chances piled up for City, most notably another Albrighton shot across goal that hit the cross bar. In the 82nd minute they got the break they wanted, following a goal mouth melee, the ball was cleared to the edge of the box. Ghezzal, running onto the ball, hit a thunderous shot into the back of the net. Immediately City’s spirits were lifted, it appeared the ultimate humiliation was avoided.

The joy lasted all of three minutes, the afore mentioned Albrighton at right back handled the ball, he offered no protest, Kavanagh pointed to the spot. All hopes were now on Ward to reproduce his Carabao Cup heroics – it was not to be. Ward dived to his right as Amond went down the middle. Hearts sank again.

Maddison offered one last chance but his effort failed to curl enough and went wide of the far post.The statistics say City had 71% possession, 24 shots, but it did not feel like that. It was total embarrassment felt by all, how can one reconcile seventh place in the Premier League with the dross served up. The gloom of the stadium was reflected in the fans.

There were very heated exchanges and arguments, some spilling over, about the lack of abilities of Ghezzal, Iheanacho, Gray and, of course, Puel: there were several Leicester fans chanting ‘He’s getting sacked in the morning’ at the end. If fans fall out with each other it is a sure sign of unrest.

In 1969 I attended the FA Cup Final, it was City’s third final in eight years. If I had known 50 years later that Leicester City would still be awaiting their next final I would have been amazed, disappointed and embarrassed – exactly how I felt Sunday evening.

Newport County: Day, Hornby-Forbes*(67), Franks, Demetriou, Neufville, Bennett, Dolan***(86), Willmott, Amond, Semenyo, Matt**(77). Substitutes: Piper**, Marsh-Brown, Sheehan, Foulston, O’Brien***, Townsend, Bakinson**

Leicester City: Ward, Simpson**(60), Morgan, Evans, Fuchs, Choudhury, Ghezzal, James***(72), Okazaki*(45),Albrighton, Iheanacho. Substitutes: Jakupovic, Soyuncu, Gray**, King***, Maddison*, Ricardo, Mendy

Referee: Kavanagh  Attendance: 6,705

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

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VARDY GIVES FOXES WINNING START TO NEW YEAR

Everton 0 City 1

Report by Colin Hall

A 58th minute strike from Jamie Vardy proved enough to secure victory for Leicester City in the first Premier League game of 2019.

Vardy's winner gave the Foxes only their second league victory at Goodison Park since 1985 and the first win in a game televised live on Sky since a 2-0 victory, also against Everton, in October 2017.

But while the team and the Blue Army will take heart from beginning the new year in positive fashion, the manner in which this result was achieved will do little resolve the long-raging debate within the fanbase over whether Claude Puel is the man to take the club forward.

After the horror show against Cardiff the previous weekend, it was no surprise that Puel rang changes. The banishment of the attacking trio of James Maddison, Marc Albrighton and Demarai Gray to the bench left little doubt as to the area of the side the City boss held most responsible for that dismal display.

In welcome contrast to several recent City visits to this venue, the game began in bright sunshine. However the first half did little credit to either side or to the league whose upper reaches they currently occupy, with misplaced passes in abundance and instances of creativity rather less so.

The home side managed just one meaningful attempt on goal during the opening 45 minutes, when a long-range drive from Kenny struck the top of the visitors' crossbar. At the other end, Ghezzal, who had hitherto endured a particularly wretched afternoon, managed the first Foxes effort on target, albeit with a tame effort comfortably saved by Pickford.

Nevertheless, Puel heeded the calls from the visiting contingent for Albrighton's introduction, and the substitute certainly raised the tempo in the City attack when taking the field after the interval.

But it still remained likely that the opening goal would be a result of individual error rather than inspiration, and so it was to prove.

A Kasper Schmeichel clearance was headed backwards by Walcott and miscued by former Foxes loanee Keane into the path of Ricardo Pereira. The Portuguese international, playing in an unfamiliar left-midfield role, instantly sent Vardy clear on goal, and the veteran striker found the net with a fine angled left-foot drive.

The goal did not cause City to change their game plan or instil any noticeable sense of urgency in the home side. The visiting defence – protected, as in previous victories, by the defensive midfield trio of Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi and Papy Mendy – dealt comfortably with attempts by the Everton attack to secure an equaliser.

There was a brief moment of alarm, though, when Jonny Evans sent a wayward header into Tosun's path, but Schmeichel reacted smartly to block the shot by the home striker.

In the closing minutes, the visitors seemed more likely to add to the scoresheet. A Harry Maguire header was blocked by Keane's flailing arm, but referee Atkinson deemed the contact unintentional. Maguire then sent a close-range shot over when he might have been expected to hit the target.

Just when City thought they had safely seen off what little threat the hosts had provided, Tosun again came close to an leveller deep into stoppage time, but Schmeichel once more proved equal to the challenge.

Although the performance was definitely more functional than fluent, Puel will be grateful that the points gained will have done a lot to dispel the storm clouds that had again begun to gather over him following the defeat by Cardiff.

Yet it remains to be seen whether he can fulfill the ambitions of the owners or the fanbase during the months ahead. As other teams have discovered in recent times, teams who produce this type of grim, joyless fare on a regular basis tend not to enjoy a prolonged shelf-life in this league.

Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gomes (Bernard 62), Gueye; Walcott (Tosun 70), Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin. Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Baines, Mina, Davies..

Bookings: Digne, Gomes, Tosun.

Leicester (4-3-2-1): Schmeichel; Simpson, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy, Choudhury; Ghezzal (Albrighton 45), Ricardo: Vardy (Gray 90 + 2). Subs not used: Ward, Söyüncü, Fuchs, Maddison, Okazaki.

Goal: Vardy (58)

Booking: Evans.

Referee: Martin Atkinson              Attendance: 39 052

 

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

 

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LCFC FANS’ CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE MEETING November 18 Part Two

Today we publish the final part of the minutes covering agenda items requested by FCC members prior to the meeting and a number of other topics raised under AOB

3.      Agenda Items from FCC Members

3.1          Marketing and communication for non-internet users

            The Club recognises that not everyone has a smart phone or laptop and ensures, for example with season ticket campaigns, that any member who doesn’t have an email address receives a printed copy. The Club is working hard to reduce its use of paper as part of its environmental responsibility but at the same time does not want to exclude any supporters. AH pointed out promotional material is included in the matchday programmes and Q magazine, as well as national and local media such as the Leicester Mercury.

Q.     Has the Club looked at digitising matchday programmes?

A.     AH: The Club is exploring the option of digitising the matchday programme but said that digital content is already available on established platforms. The Club has invested heavily in its digital platform and the printed matchday magazine carries a certain amount of unique content as a printed alternative.

Q.     Is it possible to gauge international usage of the website?

A.     LD: There has been a big increase in international exposure as the Club aims to recruit fans worldwide. AH added that the website carries dedicated Thai content and that much of the Club’s social media output is translated by territory. SJ noted that the Club’s international visits were key drivers of the expanding international fan base eg to Bangalore, and out of all the Premier League clubs had collected the most international supporter data.

3.2         Away Ticket Scheme Buying Process       

Q.    Under the old system, fans filled in a form saying they’d like to attend all the away games. The Ticketing office processed the requests and sent out the tickets for each game during the season. Currently, fans have to go online for each away game to get tickets. Can the Club go back to the form as previously?

A.     JD: The data protection requirements of GDPR prevent the Club from reverting to application forms. CM added that from a legal perspective, the Club can only keep personal data for as long as it is absolutely required. Digital data is safe. Furthermore, the old system could be subject to widespread abuse. The Club is assisting SeatGeek to develop a system that will enable fans to apply for away tickets once per season. Should this be successful, the Club is working to get this in place for next season but is not in a position to guarantee it as yet.

3.3          Female clothing range in the Fan Store

Q.     Although the range of female clothing available in the Fan Store is much better than before, the range consists of one page online for women’s clothing compared with ten pages for the men’s. Many female FCC members agreed they didn’t like the current female replica shirt, particularly the V-shaped neckline, and thought the female sizes were too small. Many women end up buying the men’s shirts.

A.     SC pointed out that the range is to some extent driven by the kit supplier, ie adidas currently. LD noted that the Club has worked with adidas to change the kit for next season.

Q.     Did the Club highlight the high proportion of female members when negotiating the contract with adidas?

A.     SC: Historically sales of the women’s range have been poor despite taking feedback from the FCC. CM said adidas had told the Club during the negotiations that their research showed that women preferred a V-neck shirt. SW added that the downside of having a big brand as kit supplier, is that the Club doesn’t have the flexibility it would like in all matters.

3.4          Stadium Expansion

Q.     It appears that Union FS has not been involved in feedback on the stadium expansion project and that there hasn’t been any communication to FCC members on the subject.

A.     LD: the Club commissioned an independent study by an external group which selected individual fans to attend a total of 15 sessions. The sessions were targeted to different groups, with attendees selected by ballot. SW noted that the complete consultation on the stadium expansion has not started and the consultants’ report wasn’t expected until December. SJ stressed that the topic was more about matchday pricing in the new stand and that the Club had no intention of excluding any group. The representative of Union FS expressed concern that the group had been under-represented but SJ reassured him that the selection was not focused at supporter groups but was driven rather by individual supporters.

3.5          Early Carabao Cup competition

Q.     As the stadium wasn’t fully sold, could the Club have sold more tickets by reducing the price, eg selling tickets for children at £1?

A.     All ticket prices have to be agreed with the other club. SC advised that the ticket revenue is split between 45% to the home club, 45% to the visitors and 10% to the EFL and The FA. Visiting lower league clubs are reluctant to cut prices too much as it is an important source of revenue for them.

4.      Any Other Business

4.1          eSports

Q.     Some football clubs, eg Paris St Germain, Manchester City, are getting into eSports, thereby attracting a younger audience. Has the Club looked into this?

A.     SW confirmed that the Club is looking into eSports in the context of the longer term.

4.2          Leicester City Womens Football Club

Q.     Could the Club give an update on the development of LCWFC?

A.     SJ said the Club had worked hard with LCWFC in their successful bid to meet the criteria for entering Tier 2. AH explained that LCWFC is an independent organisation and the Club is offering support financially, via marketing and media also.

Q.     Would the Club consider total integration with LCWFC?

A.     SW responded that the Club is not looking at diluting LCWFC’s achievements. Although Belvoir Drive is full and the Club doesn’t have any available space, the Club is providing support where it can, such as with media and kit.

Q.     Could LCWFC be used at half-time?

A.     AH: The Club is looking at raising the LCWFC’s profile while respecting their existing set-up and the progress they have made.  The Club ensured that LCWFC was included in the celebrations around the Premier League championship.

FCC members praised the LCWFC’s considerable achievements at grass-roots level and noted that they get coverage on The Women’s Football Show aired on Sunday nights.

4.3          Tributes to Khun Vichai

Q.     Could the flower tributes be mulched and spread on the pitch? Could the shirts be laid out in the ground and covered with glass.

A.     SW: the Club has a plan for regeneration which will integrate all the messages, cards, tributes and shirts. She gave her assurance that the flowers would not be thrown away.

Q.     What is the Club doing about people selling the matchday give-aways and how can this be stopped? There has been a big uproar about this on social media and some supporters are making very high bids and then refusing to pay, in an effort to stop people selling.

A.     The Club is very disappointed by this but cannot track the sellers. CM added that people selling matchday give-aways can only be banned if the Club states as such beforehand.

FCC members praised the tribute matchday programme as absolutely brilliant.

4.4          Decorating the outside of the stadium

Q.     The outside of the stadium is rather plain and there’s nothing to show that LCFC were champions of England and how proud we are of the achievement. Other clubs have their history displayed on their walls. Coming to the stadium should provide an experience for youngsters. At the moment, people coming to the stadium only see “King Power”.

Q.     Next year, 2019, will mark the 100th anniversary and an ideal opportunity to celebrate the Club’s identity and achievements. The Club is in contact with the artist who did the street art, Richard Wilson, to capture the Club’s magic moments.

4.5          Pricing in the Fan Store

Q.     Many items, particularly small ones, are not individually priced and the prices are not displayed on the shelves. One FCC recalled buying a football annual from the Fan Store for £8.99 while his wife bought the same annual in town for £6.99.               

Post-meeting response from Richard Tebbutt-Hall, Store Manager:

All products are individually priced, albeit sometimes small on the back of every product. The requirement for price labels to be fixed to individual items is included in the agreements with our suppliers and this forms part of the cost. Large POS was thought to devalue the brand as we strive to become a fashion and leisure retailer rather than just a “football shop”. Of course there will be items that occasionally slip through the net due to human error, or a tag has been pulled/fallen off. The annual was simply somebody undercutting our price. All our annuals are priced at a fair price in comparison to other retailers. We will of course use the feedback to review our store for pricing.

4.6          Big Screens

Q.     The big screens and score updates are excellent and the position of the screens is very good. It’s not always possible, however, to tell which club score is which. The acoustics have also suffered and there is an echo when people are speaking from the pitch, particularly heard by fans in the Family Stand.

Post-meeting response from Sam Chambers, Head of Content, Media:

Re identifying the scores, the screens now show the club crests and club names.

Re acoustics: we are looking at further improvements and developments to the overall matchday experience, one of those items is to look at general audio requirements. Due to the age of the current system, it is difficult to make noticeable improvements but we’re currently looking into other options.

Q.     Could the big screens show highlights from the U21’s and LCWFC on matchdays?

A.     AH: the Club is very keen to know what people are interested in seeing and welcomes any such feedback. He made it clear that if such footage did appear, it would be earlier on in the schedule.

4.7          Buying tickets online through a browser

Q.     Why is it easier to buy tickets online using Chrome rather than Windows Explorer?

A.     LD: Web developers look at the most widely used browers and prioritise accordingly based on their usage research. The version of Windows Explorer being used can also be a contributing factor.

4.8          Reselling Tickets

Q.     Can season ticket holders with a disability resell their carers’ tickets?

A.     JD: No – companion tickets are only valid in conjunction with a named disability concession holder and have no independent validity.

Stuart Johncock closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their participation in the meeting and for their invaluable feedback.

Held on Tuesday 13 November 2018 – King Power Stadium

Attendees: Adrian Neal, Alan Digby (Foxes Trust), Becky Taylor, Cliff Ginnetta (LC Supporters Club), Christine Graham, Dinesh Prajapati, Jack Munton (Union FS), Joshua Malam, Nicholas Heard, Paul Angrave, Peter Wilson, Richard Smith, Samantha Guyler, Sandra Fixter (DSA), Sarah Mitchell (DSA), Shaun Jackson. Dave Stevens (Leicestershire Police)

LCFC Personnel: Susan Whelan (CEO), Anthony Herlihy (Director of Communications), Caroline McGrory (General Counsel), Simon Capper (Finance Director), Jim Donnelly (Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer), Liam Docherty (CRM Manager), Stuart Johncock (Head of Supporter Engagement), Esther Walker (Executive Assistant to CEO)

Apologies: Adrian Neal. Andrew Keates, Claire Harrison, Dominic Palmer, Malcolm Carter, Olusola Oni, Graeme Smith (Foxes Pride), Phil Simms.

LCFC Personnel: Andrew Neville (Director of Football Operations), Jon Rudkin (Director of Football). Kevin Barclay (Operations Director), Mags Mernagh (Director, Estates & Infrastructure), Richard Lymbery (Operations Director, Levy Restaurants UK), Jamie Tabor (Head of Brand, Marketing & Digital Business)

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