LEICESTER CITY 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED 4
Match Report by Paul Weston
After the disappointing display against Southampton I looked forward to the match against Newcastle with apprehension and anxiety- I expect similar to most City fans. Pundits continued to remind us of last years meltdown at the end of the season. Surely it would not happen again? Four games including a Cup Final awaited in a short period of time which would define our season. Top was there for the first time in a year and it was great to see him at the ground.
However, the match that unfolded was probably City’s worst performance of the season. All players seemed riddled with anxiety. Mistakes were made in all areas and no-one played well. It was a real horror show- embarrassing and humiliating for the players and fans alike.
Rodgers brought in Ricardo for Thomas. Newcastle were virtually safe from relegation but worryingly had Wilson and St Maximin back fit.
Evans pulled up injured after the warm up so Rodgers had to have a quick re-shuffle, bringing in Albrighton and switching Castagne.
City started quite well with early attempts from Tielemans and Maddison. Soyuncu, who had a nightmare match, was within a whisker of giving away a penalty. Fofana, looking equally nervy without the guidance of Evans, gave a foul on the other side of the pitch, St Maximin should have scored early on but Schmeichel made a fantastic save but the omens looked bad- City’s defence was being carved up at will as Newcastle broke through our midfield. Ndidi was having a poor game by his standards and Maddison looked unfit, too slow and had little impact on the game.
It was not long before Soyuncu made a howler, trying to be too clever, which let in Willock who scored well despite Schmeichel’s efforts. 0-1. Just as we thought it could not get worse it did in the 34th minute when Dunnett beat Fofana to a header from a corner with Schmeichel floundering. Could he have come for the cross? 0-2.
Despite creating few chances Iheanacho and Vardy had shots saved but Newcastle led 2-0 at half-time which was well deserved. I felt for Top, travelling all that way to watch such a poor display. Surely City would up their game in the second half?
City started the second half at a better pace with Maddison and Ndidi going close. Rodgers brought on Perez for Ndidi in an attacking move which was high risk and quickly went awry. Ricardo, who is nothing like the player he was at the moment, lost the ball upfield and Wilson scored from a breakaway. 0-3. City responded with a shot from Perez well saved by Dubravka. Ricardo was withdrawn for Thomas. However, soon afterwards Wilson scored from another breakaway after his first shot rebounded off the post. 0-4. At this point I was hiding behind the sofa as our defence disintegrated and a cricket score loomed.
Strangely City players then decided in desperation to win some tackles and upped their game when it was too late. From a good cross from Thomas, helped on by Vardy, Albrighton scored with a screamer from long distance. 1-4.
Then as Newcastle retreated without 3 minutes left on the clock Iheanacho scored with a superb shot. 2-4. Perez should have scored a minute later but superbly saved by Dubravka. 3-4 would have sounded close but make no mistake this was a wretched performance by City.
What conclusions do we come to on the morning after the match? Are our defenders so dependent on Evans as our organiser? If so then Chelsea, Man United and Spurs will steam roller us in the matches to come if Evans is absent. Are the players distracted by the forthcoming Cup Final. If so we will go into the match out of form and will be easily beaten by Chelsea.
Despite Rodgers’ fine words on our “mentality” the looks on the players seemed haunted as if they could not believe what was happening around them with memories of last year’s disappointing end of season still vivid. Are we carrying too many players with injuries? Vardy, Ricardo, and Maddison are nowhere near the performance levels we saw earlier in the season. And yes we are really missing Justin and Barnes which would give us some more options.
I am normally a glass half-full person but as I write I cannot see how we can either win the Cup Final or secure a Champions League spot. It would be a depressing end to what has been a great season in the strangest of circumstances. How I would love to be proved wrong!
Leicester: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu: Ricardo Pereira (Thomas (69), Tielemans, Ndidi (Perez 63), Albrighton; Maddison (Mendy (77): Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs (not used): Ward, Amartey, Under, Choudhury, Praet, Fuchs.
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