Fulham 1 City 1
Match Report by Colin Hall
A 74th minute strike from James Maddison earned a draw for Leicester City during a rainswept evening on the banks of the Thames.
Although the result extended the Foxes' unbeaten run in all competitions to 7 games, this was far from an impressive performance by Claude Puel's side against Fulham, the Premier League's bottom club.
Indeed, the hosts had several chances, particularly during the closing stages, to have taken the game, and their spirited display frequently belied the gap of 11 places (and 13 points) that exists between the combatants in the current league table.
When the sides took the field, it came as no surprise to hear the name of the Fulham manager, a certain Claudio Ranieri, sung far with far more volume and gusto by the sizeable visiting contingent than that of the present incumbent.
The City side, showing several changes from the line-up that saw off Watford in the previous fixture, almost made a perfect start, when Maddison sent Kelechi Iheanacho clear on the home goal. However, the out-of-sorts striker, faced with several options, could only direct a weak effort straight at home keeper Rico.
Sadly, the miss set the tone for the rest of Iheanacho's game. Although he is a player of significant potential, there remains serious doubt as to whether that potential is ever likely to be realised at this club under the present regime.
The remainder of the opening half saw the hosts create more clear-cut scoring opportunities. Mitrovic outjumped the visiting defence to head wide from a corner, then Kasper Schmeichel was forced to turn away a fierce drive from Chambers.
But the breakthrough that Fulham had threatened finally arrived three minutes from the interval, as Kamara evaded an extravagant (and not entirely necessary) sliding challenge from Caglar Söyüncü before firing a shot which passed between Schmeichel's legs on its way to the net.
City fans hoped that Puel's half-time team talk would rouse the side into a response. Instead, though, whatever rhythm or cohesion the team possessed earlier in the game seemed to disappear completely, with simple passes going astray and Schmeichel's distribution – never his strongest point – becoming ever more erratic.
A more confident side than Fulham might have pressed home their evident superiority, but fortunately for the Foxes, the home side were unable to exploit such evident disarray, though sub Cairney sent a long-range shot inches wide with the City keeper stranded.
Puel, perhaps pushed into making changes earlier than he otherwise may have done, saw them produce the desired impact almost immediately, when Shinji Okazaki, only two minutes after being introduced for Danny Simpson, crossed for Maddison to net from close range.
To their managers' credit, both teams pressed strongly for a winner in the final 15 minutes. City created their share of the chances, with Vicente Iborra heading wide, while Maddison and Demarai Gray were denied by Rico in rapid succession.
Yet it was the hosts who nearly had the last word, when, with virtually the match's final kick, Odoi beat an ill-judged offside trap only to blaze wastefully over.
The prevailing post-match opinion among the fans I spoke to (or saw online comment from) was that the result represented a point gained by the visitors rather than two dropped. City have now played each of the league's bottom three clubs in the past month and failed to beat any of them in open play.
This form does not augur well for the series of forthcoming clashes with several of the league's big guns.
However, the plus points for Puel will be that the side appeared to avoid further serious injuries and actually (for once) managed to complete an entire game without collecting a single red or yellow card!
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rico; Christie (Ream 84), Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand (Bryan 77); Chambers, Seri; Kamara, Vietto (Cairney 45), R Sessegnon; Mitrovic. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Kebano, Schürrle, Anguissa.
Goal: Kamara (42)
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Simpson (Okazaki 72), Morgan, Söyüncü, Chilwell; Ndidi, Mendy (Iborra 72); Albrighton, Maddison, Diabate (Gray 55); Iheanacho. Subs not used: Ward, Ricardo, Fuchs, Knight.
Goal: Maddison (74)
Referee: David Coote Attendance: 22,881
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