Burton 0 City 0 – Burton win on penalties 3 – 1
Report by Colin Hall
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