Young Guns Show Plenty of Promise

Peterborough United 1 Leicester City 5

ABAX Stadium  Emirates FA Cup – 27th January 2018

Report by Colin Murrant

So many times have visits to POSH ended in disappointment, usually with the home team taking initiative and the game to City. This time it was so different with City immediately getting into their stride and being out of sight by the half hour mark. The match was not the only improvement as those City fans in the Motorpoint Stand behind the goal experienced a comfortable stand with top class facilities. A far cry from the abomination of a stand the new one replaced, although the City fans situated in the wing stand still had uncomfortable seats with poor facilities.

City made several changes but with a stronger team than was sent out at Fleetwood. With Hamer in goal, and an experienced back four, a midfield hub of Iborra and Silva, and starts for Iheanacho and debutant Fousseni Diabaté. The bench was packed solid with the insurance of the top guns including Mahrez, Vardy; also, Robert Huth was in the squad for the first time this season.

City kicked off defending the end where their fans were situated; the pitch was in good condition but the wind was swirling around the stadium. City were fast out of the traps playing some crisp inter-passing, and combined with Peterborough’s inability to retain possession, it was not a surprise that City took an early lead.

As early as six minutes Iheanacho had gone close, and in the seventh minute a casual clearance from Hamer rebounded off Marriott for a goal kick. A minute later and a short ball by Silva into the feet of Diabaté, excellent close control took him clear of two defenders and his early left foot shot found the far corner of the net. This was after 9 minutes and three minutes later City were comfortably in the lead. A poor back pass from Forrester was picked up by Iheanacho who, from the edge of the box, curled a 20 yarder into the same bottom corner.

Then came the third and best goal of the match. Again  Diabaté was involved, holding up the ball and then sending a reverse pass to Fuchs who sent in a superb cross from the left wing which Iheanacho met on the penalty spot to volley into the roof of the net. This was after 29 minutes and the game was effectively over.

Peterborough had one chance in the first half when a cross came across goal with two players trying desperately to get something on the ball, neither manged to and David Lloyd injured himself by colliding with the post.

The second half started with POSH on the offensive, clearly they had nothing to lose and they were having a go. City were sluggish, as if the job was done. Forrester was prominent at this stage spraying passes either side as POSH won several corners. From one Maddison corner in the 57th minute, Taylor, unchallenged by Benalouane, knocked down for Hughes to fire home although the ball appeared to be deflected by a City defender to leave Hamer stranded. With it went the chance for City to keep a clean sheet for 6 matches running, equalling a record about 100 years old.

Was this to be the catalyst for POSH? Puel did not wait long before he substituted Barnes and Iborra who had been booked in the first half for Albrighton and Ndidi. This was to be the turning point as City grasped the initiative again. In the 67th minute Gray squared to Diabaté who stepped over the ball on the edge of the box before launching a fierce left foot strike which Bond in the POSH goal did well to push wide. It was all City and Fuchs set Albrighton up for a 25-yard strike that just cleared the bar.

On the 87th minute the job was done, Gray, who had a few shots straight at the keeper, ran through the middle and shot. This time Bond saved again but the ball went to the corner of the 6-yard box and straight to Diabaté who hit the ball firmly into the roof of the net.

Deep into injury time and Albrighton sent Diabaté on his way down City’s right flank. He got to the box and stopped as he was met by two defenders, then with lightening feet he beat both, pulled the ball back to the penalty spot where Ndidi was there to hit the ball into the back of the net.

A great performance and the feeling that a great transition is in place. Now you cannot get carried away against Division 1 opposition but neither can you deny the talents in this young team. Silva is beginning to look the classy player we have anticipated, apart from a couple of loose passes he was majestic.

But the emergence of the young guns is so exciting. Not ignoring Barnes, who is showing glimpses of what he is capable of, Chilwell who is improving, Gray who is still enigmatic, and the wonderful Maguire; we now have Fousseni Diabaté, Kelechi Promise Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi.

Ndidi is reaching almost cult status with his energy, tackling, interceptions and the odd goal. Iheanacho is beginning to show the promise (pun intended) that he showed at Manchester City, wonderful what a couple of goals can do for the confidence; perhaps surprised he was substituted with a hat-trick in the offing: maybe he will play a part at Everton on Wednesday and is being saved.

But have city unearthed another gem in Fousseni Diabate. It is always wrong to judge someone on one performance, but two goals, two assists, great close control, a willingness to work, and speed in abundance suggest there is plenty more to come. Schlupp and DoDoo in recent years have debuted with hat-tricks but neither were as good as this performance.

Watching Yeovil, the night before, and POSH today, left me wondering if the day of regular giant killings is past, there will be occasional ones of course. But better pitches, and clamp down on tackling, means that the underdogs do not have the advantages they previously had. Also, the bigger clubs’ squads are now stronger.

It was refreshing to see Puel rest players but still put out a decent midfield; perhaps he learnt from Fleetwood.

When we last played POSH in the league we were both going for promotion in Division One; just how far have we come from then.

So on to round 5 and the last sixteen, we’re on our way, with Claude Puel, we’re on our way!

Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard, Andrew Hughes, Steven Taylor, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Chris Forrester, Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Junior Morias, 61 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Andrea Borg, 87 mins), Danny Lloyd (sub Idris Kanu, 80 mins), Jack Marriott. Unused subs: Conor O’Malley, Alex Penny, Jack Baldwin, Michael Doughty.

Leicester: Ben Hamer, Danny Simpson, Harry Maguire, Yohan Benalouane, Christian Fuchs, Adrien Silva, Vicente Iborra (sub Marc Albrighton, 64 mins), Fousseni Diabaté, Demarai Gray, Harvey Barnes (sub Wilfred Ndidi, 64 mins), Kelechi Iheanacho (sub Ben Chilwell, 80 mins).
Unused subs: Eldin Jakupović, Robert Huth, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy.

Referee: Michael Oliver                Attendance: 13,193 (3,999 Leicester).

Goals:

Posh – Hughes (57 mins).

Leicester – Diabaté (7 mins & 87 mins), Iheanacho (12 mins & 29 mins). Ndidi (90 mins)

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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Opposition Viewpoint – Peterborough

A bit about you:

Name: Scott Garner
 
Current home town: Peterborough
 
Birthplace: Wisbech
 
How long have you supported your team? Since 1987
 
Overview of your club:

Favourite thing about your home ground: The mix of the old and the new
 
Favourite match played by your team & why: Wembley 1992 vs Stockport County
 
Favourite player of all time who played for your club: Tony Philliskirk
 
About our forthcoming match against you:

Your favourite current player in your squad and why? Steven Taylor – hugely experienced defender who solidifies the defensive unit and will have a huge influence on Ryan Tafazollis Development this season

 

Player in your squad we should most fear and why? A difficult choice between Maddison and Marriott, however I’m siding with Marriott. His goals tally this season is impressive and is backed up by his work rate. He has proven he can score against Championship opposition and I’m sure will want to add goals against premier league opposition. His pace is a threat and he manages to pressure defenders into mistakes.

 

Player in our squad you most fear and why? Assuming you put out a fullish strength side then Mahrez is a player to fear. His pace is an asset that worries premier league defences and he can create on the left and the right. His delivery is excellent and he can produce sublime finishes.

 

Up and coming prospect in your squad? Sam Cartwright has looked an excellent centre half in preseason and reserve fixtures. He’s got great movement and is good in the air. Hopefully he will learn from the likes of Taylor and Taff and develop into a reliable centre half in the coming seasons

 

What is your result prediction for this game ? We’ve been so unpredictable this season it’s hard to tell. My heart says a Posh victory but my head says a 2-2 draw to earn a valuable replay.

 

What impact will the revenue for the game have on your club ? I’m hoping the revenue from the fixture and hopefully the reply will enable us to keep hold of Maddison and Marriott and support the push for promotion this season to return to the Championship

 

Any other comments? I’m looking forward to seeing the ground full again and generating a great atmosphere. Hopefully a fixture like this will encourage the City to get behind the team and help drive fans back into London Road to watch exciting football. 

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REFEREE STEALS THE LIMELIGHT FROM CITY

LEICESTER CITY 2 WATFORD 0

Match Report by Paul Weston

Having missed the last few home games with flu I was so excited to be walking yet again to the King Power stadium to see how our team would fare against Watford, against whom we should have won in the away match after an excellent first half.

Despite various rumours about Huth and Simpson returning to fitness Puel made few changes from our “A” team. Chilwell, after serving his one match ban, returned at left back. Interestingly Ndidi and James formed the midfield core, with Silva on the bench. Again, Gray was on the bench, losing out to Albrighton, whose performances had been recently more consistent. Interestingly new signing Diabate was on the bench, with no sign of either Slimani or Ulloa. Speculation was rife yet again on whether Slimani was on his way out of the club.

As for Watford, Wague and Deeney both played, and both subject of City interest at different times. I also wonder whether Watford’s manager Silva thought he would lose his job on the following day?

Watford started with a flurry of corners and their aerial advantage immediately looked a threat. Soon after, though, Vardy was put through with a superb pass and the Watford keeper made a smart save, with Okazaki unable to react quickly enough to the rebound. Soon after, from a rare free kick awarded by referee Lee Probert, Maguire nearly set up Ndidi close to goal but the shot was blocked.

As the match developed it soon became clear that Watford were a tough robust tackling side and not the attractive ball playing team that I had expected. As soon as the Watford players realised that Lee Probert was going to keep his cards in his pocket they continued with niggly fouls and borderline tackles, safe in the knowledge that no action would be taken.

It was a baffling and frustrating performance from the referee. It took City players all of the first half to realise that the referee was going to let Watford get away with it. The resulting first half was therefore fairly devoid of attractive football. City could not get their passing game going and players like Mahrez and Albrighton were crowded out and often fouled to everyone’s frustration. Okazaki was on the ground even more frequently than usual!

It was therefore poetic justice that City should score from a penalty. James slid a pass into Vardy, who was brought down by Wague even though he was running across the penalty area. It was in my opinion a penalty and amazingly the referee blew his whistle and actually agreed! Vardy took the penalty really well into the corner, much better than his usual “blast it into the centre of the goal and hope for the best” approach. And an unsatisfactory first half ended 1-0.

City did improve in the second half by upping the tempo but the one goal lead was precarious and, the longer the game went on, one feared a Watford equaliser. The nearest they got to a goal was when substitute Andre Gray, put clean through, shot strongly but it was miraculously blocked by Maguire even before Schmeichel might have saved it. It was a crucial point in the match.

As soon as Watford pushed two forwards up then City started to exploit the gaps. Vardy set up Okazaki whose shot was saved. Ndidi had a curling shot well saved from a pass from Chilwell and also had a fierce shot just over from some way out. Mahrez, whose contribution had been fitful and nothing had come off, started to find a bit more space instead of having three Watford players hacking at his ankles. Gray came on for Okazaki who had worked so hard. Gray also started to run at a more nervous Watford defence.

As the clocked ticked away Puel brought on Silva for Vardy who had worked his socks off and was knackered. It did not take long for Silva to take control of the ball, push forward and slide a lovely ball on the left to Mahrez. Moving into the penalty area Riyad wisely decided that falling to the ground to try to win a penalty would get nowhere with this referee so he did what he can do best, beating three men before shooting in from a narrow angle- a wonderful goal. I immediately forgave him for all his misplaced passes in the rest of the game! The game ended shortly with the score 2-0. It sounds comfortable but it never felt like that at all.

The welcome three points from a not very good game pushes City to seventh place in the league, but eight points behind Arsenal. Safety and 40 points beckon and perhaps we can go on a good FA cup run in the second half of the season, although Peterborough away is the first obstacle.

No-one really excelled in the game and no-one really played badly. My man of the match would be Amartey whose performances, after his aberration against Man Utd, have made it difficult for Simpson to replace him. Amartey’s energy, athleticism, contribution to the attack and tackling are a good combination.

My abiding memory of this game, however, will not be of Mahrez’s mazy run to score or Vardy’s penalty but the most inept, lack lustre and uncommunicative referee’s performance from Lee Probert that I have ever seen, which even beats that of John Moss!

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Dragovic, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Gray, Iheanacho, Hamer, Adrien Silva, Fuchs, Diabate, Benalouane.

Watford: Karnezis, Janmaat, Wague, Kabasele, Zeegelaar, Watson, Doucoure, Carrillo, Pereyra, Richarlison, Deeney. Subs: Prodl, Mariappa, Sinclair, Gray, Holebas, Capoue, Okaka.

Referee: Lee Probert.

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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FOX CUBS’ WEMBLEY DREAM OVER

Oldham 4 Leicester U21s 2 – Checkatrade Trophy

Match Report by Graham Tracey

Our Under 21s bowed out of the Checkatrade Trophy in wintry Oldham, having been one of only two junior teams to have made it to the last 16 of the competition. The outcome was disappointing as we had led at half time, only to ship 4 fairly soft goals in 36 second half minutes.

The last time I went to Boundary Park was in 1996 during the Martin O’Neill promotion push. For symmetry, we also lost and it was freezing then. Emile Heskey had just become a first team regular, so would a star of the future be on view tonight?

Remarkably, we fielded a team with 4 players who tasted the Champions League last season – Huth, Musa, Hamer and Barnes. The competition  rules probably need changing – at the end hearing the excited chatter of Oldham fans about being two games from Wembley, it is those clubs who deserve the day out and it would be against the purpose of the trophy if a Premiership team made it there.

After an uncertain start, Huth had a good work out against physical opposition. Hamer is probably miffed at his demotion to 3rd choice keeper and walked off at full time without bothering with handshakes.

The saddest sight was Musa, who unlike Barnes hadn’t even been in the squad for Fleetwood the night before. While he kept running and bagged a tap in to make it 2-2 with 20 minutes left, he had no impact and I felt genuinely sorry for him. How can someone go from goals in world cup finals and dribbling through Barcelona in pre-season 18 months ago to being neutralised by third tier players? I guess he was only playing due to his experience of playing in the freezing Russian winter.

On a positive note, we got our first sight of Diabate He didn’t see much of the ball but did show flashes of pace and flair when he did. I like Josh Knight at right-back, he has the physical stature and I would have no problem with him playing for the first team if Simpson and Amartey were both temporarily unavailable.

Two diminutive players in midfield / attack worked hard and impressed – George Thomas who was on the bench at Anfield at Christmas, and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall who I had not heard of before. On tonight’s showing, I was disappointed with Hamza Choudhury and Harvey Barnes, given that they have loan experience at a higher level than Oldham.

As for the actual game, Oldham were on top for most of the first half on a heavy pitch in wind and rain, but we went ahead just before the break when Knight followed up a parried shot. Oldham didn’t seem to have a real cutting edge, so the first goal seemed important. However, out of nothing the Latics scored quickly after the restart – a quick break down the left, and then a dubious handball penalty that was tapped in after Hamer saved the spot kick.

Musa’s equaliser followed from our best move of the match and the team’s celebrations showed this meant something to them. However, two late set piece goals – a corner finding someone unmarked to stab home, and then a free header from a free kick – put paid to the 19 game unbeaten run at this level. Maybe a reflection of the physicality of older players.

Hats off to the dozen Leicester fans who were there. This was only a short drive from my work so I went in the main stand assuming there would be no away end open, but was impressed to see a few faithful there.

CITY: Hamer, Knight, Wood, Huth, Hughes, Diabate, Dewsbury-Hall, Choudhury, Barnes, Thomas, Musa. Subs: Gordon, Eppiah

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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Opposition Viewpoint – Watford

View from the Opposition –

A bit about you:

Name: John Fawell

Current home town: Bourne End, Bucks

Birthplace: County Durham

How long have you supported your team? Over thirty years

Overview of your club: It is a quite small family club with a friendly atmosphere. We have punched above our weight for a long time and we do OK even though we aren’t fashionable. We went through a difficult period of ups and downs between 2000 and the present time but things have improved immeasurably since the Pozzo family got involved. We have a very good Community Trust which does great things in the community and of which we are very proud.

Favourite thing about your home ground: Comfortably familiar with an element of the old fashioned near the town centre grounds that I remember so well.

Favourite match played by your team & why: First leg of the championship play-off semi-final at Crystal Palace in 2006. We do not have a happy time at Selhurst Park and the Palace fans were so confident that they were handing out flyers for the special train they had booked to take them to the final in Cardiff. Watford won 3-0.

Favourite player of all time who played for your club: John McLelland, one of the most elegant centre halves ever.

About our forthcoming match against you: A difficult game between two sides who are unpredictable, although our current form is not good and the confidence is low. We have something like 8 first team players out injured. Much will depend on whether Marco Silva is prepared to play two up front.

Your favourite current player in your squad and why? Troy Deeney because he leads from the front and always gives his all in attack or defence.

Player in your squad we should most fear and why? Peyrera who is just coming back to fitness and if played in the middle is skillful and can create chances.

Player in our squad you most fear and why? Mahrez because he not only influences how others play but when on form is a very good goal scorer….. and he always seems to score against us..

Up and coming prospect in your squad? Richarlison who has proved a revelation since his arrival. However, he does need a rest as he has played so many games in a new country and a new league.

Where do you think you’ll finish this season? Hopefully about tenth but that depends on the injuries and getting players back.

How do you think you’ll do against us? No idea, it depends on how we start and how the defence plays.

General Questions:

What do you think of the transfer activity both in and out of your club this season? Pretty good. We also brought in some young English players, the problem is keeping them fit.

Which three teams do you think will go down? Last season I said Sunderland, Hull and Swansea or Middlesborough. This season I think Swansea but it is so tight I really don’t know.

Who do you think will win the league? Not a difficult one with Manchester City so far ahead.

Any other comments? Games between us are generally close and usually exciting, even when the quality is lacking. The play-off semi-final at our place has to be one of the most exciting I have ever witnessed. I know several neutrals who feel the same.

John is a board member of the Watford Supporters Trust, the latest from their Trust can be read here http://watfordsupporterstrust.co.uk/

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