Promising signs, despite the result

Wycombe 1 City 0

Report by Kate Thompson

Despite having a ticket for the match, I decided not to risk getting pinged, so watched the match via LCFC TV.  The signal was dreadful, so I was grateful to a fellow Foxes Trust board member who said it was better on youtube – which it was.  Like the game against Burton Albion, City had two different teams in each half, which included some of the youngsters who have been training with the first team.

My first reaction was that the performance was an improvement on the first pre-season game, and the second half was more satisfying than the first.  We can’t read too much into the result – a 1-0 loss to City – as it all about trying things and getting the fitness levels up to speed. 

Of the first half team, Vardy was his usual busy self and Daka saw more of the ball.  Soumaré looked good, but there was no sign of Bertrand, the club confirming later that he had a slight injury concern.  Wycombe had a familiar face in their team, David Stockdale their goalkeeper who played for Leicester in the earlier part of this century.

Wycombe started very brightly and won a succession of corners.  They had a big presence in Adebayo Akinfenwa who caused quite a few problems.  Nevertheless, the defence stood firm and the match was goalless at half-time.  Ghezzal played again, despite being expected to leave permanently, and took the corners and free kicks, which were an improvement on some of Maddison’s at the back end of last season. 

One of the youngsters, Tawanda Maswanhise, impressed again as he had against Burton, and Thomas played well – further demonstrating that if a player is good enough, he is old enough.

The second half team included Maddison and Dewsbury-Hall, both of whom had a reasonable game.  Maddison in particular looked almost back to his best.  Benkovic played again and seemed solid, but perhaps against better teams will he struggle? 

Another new face was Ben Nelson, a centre-back, who did not look out of place.  Thanawat Suengchitthawon looked lively, so it was disappointing when he hurt his ankle in the 60th minute and was replaced by Vontane Daley-Campbell.

The only goal came in the 80th minute and there was little that Jakob Stolarczyk, the Development Squad goalkeeper, could do about it.  So, two games and two defeats, but it is too early to get despondent, and we need to remember that both the opposition teams we have faced had already played a few games already.

Leicester Line Ups

1st Half: Iversen; Ricardo, Forfana, Soyuncu, Thomas, Ghezzal, Ndidi, Soumaré, Mswanhise, Daka, Vardy.

2nd Half: Stolarczyk, Amartey, , Nelson, Benković, Sowah, Albrighton, Dewsbury-Hall, Choudhury, Suengchitthawon (sub Daley-Campbell, 60), Maddison, Iheanacho.

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

Going to Queens Park Rangers ?

Saturday 31st July 3pm kick off

Image from the last clash between the sides a 5-1 victory for Leicester at the end of the “Great Escape Season 2014/15” (Barclays Premier, 24 May 2015)

By car   W12 7PJ 103ls, 2 hours 15 mins

From The North/West
At the end of the M40, take the A40 towards Central London. At the point where the A40 becomes the A40(M), turn off onto the A40 towards White City/Shepherds Bush and turn right into Wood Lane, turn right into South Africa Road for the Loftus Road ground.

Parking

There is not much in the way of parking near to the ground. Matt Garside from Southampton suggests; ‘It’s probably easiest to just park on the road in this area as it costs £6.60 for three hours parking’. Some of these areas are free after 5pm. However, there are a number of restricted parking zones around the stadium so be careful where you park. You can also park at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherds Bush. It is open seven days a week and costs £9.50 at weekends and £8.50 on weekday evenings. If you sign up in advance to their Smart Parking Scheme, then you get a 25% discount on the weekday parking charge (does not apply at weekends). There is also the option of renting a private driveway near the Loftus Road Stadium via YourParkingSpace.co.uk.

South Africa Road running past the stadium, closes to traffic ninety minutes before kick-off on all matchdays. The Police enforce the road closure which remains in place until approximately 15 minutes after kick-off. At the end of the game, a similar closure is implemented 15 minutes before the end of the game and lasts for approximately one hour. Supporters are advised to avoid parking in the few pay and display bays available in Dorando Close as they face a long wait to get out at the end of the game due to the above closure.

By Train

Trains take just over 3 hours, around £105 return.  There may be reduced timetables and disruption please check before travelling.

The nearest London Underground station is White City on the Central Line, which is about a five minute walk away. Also nearby is Wood Lane Station, which is on the Hammersmith & City line. It is around a seven minute walk away from Loftus Road.

Where to drink

Most pubs in the vicinity ban away supporters. One exception may be Belushi’s in the Vue Complex, opposite Shepherd’s Bush Tube Station. This basic bar also shows Sky and BT Sports. Otherwise, alcohol is available inside the Loftus Road Stadium

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Football Ground Guide.

FOXES DISPLAY FALLS FLAT IN BURTON

Burton 0 City 0 – Burton win on penalties 3 – 1

Report by Colin Hall

City Fans at a previous pre season friendly in 2017
City Fans at a previous pre season friendly at Burton in 2017

In a distinctly low-key start to the preseason campaign, FA Cup holders Leicester City were held to a 0-0 draw at League 1 side Burton.

Despite the absence of eleven members of the first-team squad, Brendan Rodgers was still able to field two full sides which played a half each.

However, just two weeks before the showpiece Community Shield clash with Premier League champions Manchester City, the lack of leadership and creativity on display will be a concern, even allowing for the understandable rustiness of players returning from summer breaks.

Facing competitive and spirited hosts with three pre-season games already under their belts, City managed just a single effort on target, when Jamie Vardy’s close range shot was blocked by home keeper Garratt just after the break.

At the other end, although occasionally troubled by setpieces – an issue that cost the Foxes so dearly in last season’s league run-in – the defence held firm and restricted the Brewers to few clear-cut chances.

The match gave the Blue Army the first opportunity to see the three main summer signings in action. Their impact on the game was somewhat varied.

Midfielder Boubakary Soumare was the most impressive, looking strong and composed in possession and giving glimpses of the quality which made him such a key component in Lille’s French title-winning team. Whether he will be a complement to or a replacement for Wilfred Ndidi remains to be seen.

But striker Patson Daka looked rather less comfortable as a lone striker facing experienced, tight-marking central defenders, though the lack of service from either wide players or midfielders gave him few opportunities to shine. He will hope for further opportunities to show his true quality in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Ryan Bertrand, the other member of the incoming trio, gave a solid if unspectacular display at left-back, although he occasionally looked more comfortable in the opposing half than his own.

Elsewhere in the side, South African winger Tawanda Maswanhise caught the eye in the early stages, particularly with a long-range drive which flew just over the Burton goal. There was also a glimpse of long-time loanees Rachid Ghezzal and Filip Benkovic, though Ghezzal gave little indication that his return to the City ranks will be more than a fleeting one. In addition, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall showed useful touches in midfield, though his delivery of setpieces still needs attention.

Despite a number of stoppages, in the first half for an injury to James Maddison (which fortunately proved not to be serious) and in the second for a number of home substitutions, referee Mike Dean refused to allow a second of additional time in either half to be played. Otherwise, however, the long-serving Premier League official kept his ego under control, to the clear relief of both sets of supporters.

A penalty shootout (won 3-1 by the home side) took place after the game to determine the winners of the Bass Charity Vase. While this honour may not be as prestigious as some that City may compete for in the forthcoming season, nevertheless the attitude of the City players who missed (Luke Thomas, Kelechi Iheanacho and Thai youngster Thanawat Suengchitthawon) appeared slightly disrespectful to the 1600+ City fans who made the journey to the Pirelli Stadium.

Apart from a moronic few who booed the players before the game for taking a knee, the travelling fans gave good vocal support to the side and deserved a better outcome.

But on this evidence, the eventual destiny of the coming season may lie more in the work undertaken at City’s plush new Seagrave training complex during the weeks ahead than the results in this series of warm-up fixtures.

Leicester (1st half, 4-2-3-1): Jakupovic; Ricardo, Fofana, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Choudhury, Soumare; Ghezzal, Maddison, Maswanhise; Daka.

(2nd half, 4-4-2): Iversen, Daley-Campbell, Amartey, Benkovic, Thomas; Sowah. Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall, Suengchitthawon; Iheanacho, Vardy.

Penalty scored: Dewsbury-Hall

Penalties missed: Suengchitthawon, Thomas, Iheanacho

Referee: Mike Dean Attendance: 3 925

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

Going to Wycombe Wanderers ?

With fans now being able to go to away games again, Anne Noble will resume providing guides on behalf of the Foxes Trust to getting to the matches, starting with next Wednesday evenings 7.30pm kick against Wycombe

Directions by road  HP12 4HJ 96 miles approx. 2 hours.

At junction 15A of the M1 , take the A43 exit Continue on A43 until you reach the Cherwell roundabout where you can join the M40

Leave the M40 at junction 4 and follow the signs to Aylesbury on the A4010 (John Hall Way). Cross over three small roundabouts into New Road continuing down the hill to two mini roundabouts at the bottom. Turn sharp left at the first into Lane End Road and continue to the next mini roundabout at which turn right into Hillbottom Road. Adams Park is situated at the very end of the road.

Parking

There is no parking for the general public in the lower tier – spaces in the upper tier are £5 per car. There is also a car park behind Origin Global (on the left before the Adams Park gates), priced at £5 a car, the proceeds of which are split between the club and the Rennie Grove charity.

Blue badge holders are required to pre-book one of 15 complimentary parking spaces via the ticket office; otherwise the standard £5 charge applies.

Street parking is also available in the vicinity of the ground, however, supporters are warned that traffic wardens patrol the area regularly and we would ask you to park sensibly, respecting our neighbours in the Sands area.

Directions by rail

High Wycombe is served by the Chiltern Railways line, connecting Birmingham to London Marylebone. The station is approximately 2.5 miles from the stadium, and you can either take the bus (see below) or travel via taxi.
Trains take under 3 hours but it might be difficult to get bac k

Pubs
The nearest pub to Adams Park, is the Hourglass in Sands about a 15 minute walk.

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Football Ground Guide, and Wycombe Wanderers FC

End Of Season Review 2020-21 Part Eight

We have just received a late contribution from Colin Hall, so here are his thoughts to complete the series of articles from our match reporting team

Before the season started what were your hopes on what we could achieve?

I hoped that we could remain competitive during the season and have a real go at the FA Cup. Both of these boxes were comprehensively ticked!

Going into the final weeks of the season what was more important to you, winning the FA Cup or qualifying for the Champions League?

Ideally, I’d like to have seen our top four status secured before we went to Wembley. The opportunity was there, sadly the mentality within the squad was not. Players don’t get too many chances in their careers to play in cup finals, so were understandably fearful of picking up injuries. Thus we dropped crucial points in games that should have been won.

The players made their priority clear and we had to live with that, although it may now be some time before we next earn a chance to play among Europe’s elite.

Given how the season panned out, in terms of success how do you rate it out of 10 and why?

I’d say 8, which may seem harsh to some given that we won a trophy and finished in the top five. But seeing the golden ticket of Champions League football slip through our fingers in the closing games, for the second season running, was a real disappointment, as it will have an impact on the future development of the club.

What was your personal highlight of the season?

It was a privilege and honour to be at Wembley to see us win our first-ever FA Cup. Given the pain suffered in that competition over the decades, especially at the hands of Chelsea, it was particularly sweet that they were the team we beat to clinch the trophy.

The only regrets were the impact on our league form and the fact that circumstances restricted the number of fans who were able to witness the victory in person.

But all who were there – players and fans alike – did the club and the late Khun Vichai proud.

Youri Tielemans won the Player of the Year Awards, would he have been your choice and who else do you think deserves praise for their performances?

The honours were no more than Youri deserved, He managed to stay fit, which was no mean achievement in itself, but he also acquitted himself well against the best the league had to offer. In addition, he contributed a number of crucial goals, including the winner at Wembley.

James Justin and Harvey Barnes also made significant progress during the season before suffering serious injuries. Both would otherwise have been serious contenders for the England squad this summer.

Meanwhile, Luke Thomas helped to fill the void left by Ben Chilwell’s departure. He did both himself and the club academy proud.

What were your views on the signings made during last season?

Timothy Castagne settled down very quickly with some impressive displays in the opening weeks, although he was one of several players whose season was disrupted with injuries.

Wesley Fofana arrived for a big fee, particularly given his youth, but he acquitted himself well and played an important role in the cup run. If he stays fit, he could be a rock in central defence for many years to come.

Cengiz Under, though, failed to build on the promise he showed in some of his early appearances. He proved not to be the upgrade on Demarai Gray that the fans had hoped for and it was little surprise that the option to buy him was not exercised.

Which player do you think made the most progress last season and why?

Kelechi Iheanacho scored some crucial goals during the Europa League group stages, but it wasn’t until the second half of the season that he finally started to fulfil his potential on a regular basis. The last minute winner against Brighton proved a real turning point for him. In the remaining months, his record of goals and assists was among the best in the league. The task for him now is to ensure he can continue at that level in future campaigns.

Which player did you think underperformed the most last season and why?

Ayoze Perez played in a variety of positions and didn’t entirely impress in any of them. At the moment, he seems to be a jack of many trades and master of none. He has yet to prove that he can perform at the level to which we aspire, and if another Premier club makes a reasonable bid for him, it should be given due consideration.

There were also a number of players who didn’t get the game time we might have expected towards the end of the season. Whether this is due to the manager losing faith in their ability to perform at the standard we need will become clearer in the coming weeks.

In a season of many injuries, which player’s injury do you think had the most detrimental effect on our season ?

All the injuries had an adverse impact, but that suffered by Jonny Evans in the closing weeks was the one most keenly felt. Had he been available in the run-in, I have no doubt we’d have been able to stay in the top four.

VAR – with our view via our armchair for nearly all the games, how do you feel about its effectiveness last season and what would you change?

It continues to have the power to irritate, because it is not always operated on a consistent basis, but the main issue is with many of the current crop of officials, whose limitations won’t be overcome no matter how much technology is at their disposal.

Moving onto next season

If you had to choose one position where we needed to strengthen, what would it be?

We needed extra options in attack, and it is to be hoped that the arrival of Patson Daka will address this.

What other changes do you think are necessary to improve on this year’s squad?

Given the departure of Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan, plus the current injuries to Justin and Castagne, more cover in defence is needed.

Would you be looking to add some experience to a fairly youthful squad or would you continue bringing in younger players and develop them?

The current balance between youth and experience has worked reasonably well in recent seasons, should be maintained as far as possible. But the presence of a Walsh/Huth style warrior in defence would not go amiss.

If you had a chance for a word in the owner’s ears, which player(s) would you be advising to sign?

The record of the scouting team over recent seasons suggests their advice should be heeded. They clearly have far more knowledge than I do about the players available throughout Europe.

What are your expectations and fears for next season?

Another top-half finish is well within our grasp, as well as progress in the Europa League beyond the group stage. However, should inconsistent form continue, some key players may be tempted to move elsewhere to advance their careers.

Any other observation you would like to make

The resurfacing of long-dormant racial tensions at the end of last season, and their persistence during and beyond the Euros, is a particularly unwelcome development in the game, especially for a club like ours with such a diverse fan base.

Some fans, at club and national level, seem to want a return to the 1980s when racial abuse was rampant. We cannot and must not allow this to happen. If players and teams wish to take a knee, they should be supported unconditionally.

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