SOUTHAMPTON 2 FOXES 2
Report by Graham Tracey
We kicked off our hectic and probably season-defining December with our season so far in a nutshell. A slow start, two soft goals from corners, nearly another penalty conceded, but two good goals ourselves and ultimately with chances to win.
The league table remains the most congested I can remember at this stage, meaning we shouldn’t yet be thinking of this as a ‘cup run only’ season. However, even with an established centre half pairing that has served us well historically in Evans and Soyuncu, we are never going to put together a string of victories when we are consistently letting in two goals a game. I don’t know what the problem is, but it seems unlikely to ease until Fofana and Justin return.
The game started at 7.30, and I’m old enough to remember when this was the standard kick off for evening games. If Eastenders is also still on at 7.30, we’d conceded virtually by the end of the theme tune. When Southampton took a short corner, I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived as a well-worked move saw a shot from the cut back well saved by Kasper, only for Bednarek to poke home in the ensuing scramble.
Anyone betting on another 9-0, let alone what looked like a great chance for a clean sheet, was ripping up their coupon already. Shocking concentration by us, and for 20 minutes it was as if we had deep sea diving suits on, so much more fluid and hungry were the Saints.
Our equaliser came out of the blue, when a Lookman counter-attack won us a corner, and then Maddison set up Ndidi, whose shot was only parried by McCarthy to Evans who stroked home.
Unfortunately, this didn’t provide any momentum, and before half time another corner wasn’t cleared properly, and Adams had time to open his advent calendar and write a few cards before stooping to glance home a low cross between our mannequins.
Rodgers was looking more animated (i.e. annoyed) than usual and it was no surprise to see a change at half time. Soumare had some good games when he first came in, but is no doubt adjusting to the pace of English football and particularly looked like a clockwork toy on its last legs tonight. His fatigue shows in how many fouls he concedes.
Dewsbury-Hall came on, and immediately influenced the game with his purposeful running with the ball and ability to pick out a cross field pass. He was involved in our equaliser early in the second half (pleasingly also involving other home-grown talent in Barnes and Thomas), completed expertly at the near post by Madders who had begun the move in our own half.
2-2 after 50 minutes suggests a great game, and the Amazon commentators raved about it in the way that commentators who don’t often get to cover a live match do. In truth, neither team were playing particularly well. However, the remainder of the match was definitely the most exciting, even though ultimately there were no goals. It could genuinely have gone either way right into injury time.
We were the stronger team with more quality, but there was a palpable sense that while we could score another top drawer goal, Southampton were justified to feel we could gift them another at any minute. This was encapsulated when Ndidi pole-axed a player in the box, only to be saved by the offside flag already being raised. That would have been a ridiculous 3 pens in 3 games for the strangely out-of-sorts mainstay.
At the other end, I am still wondering how McCarthy got his fingertips to Barnes’ drive, and how Vardy fired over when clean through. An extra two points would have been massive in the current state of play.
I supported Rodgers’ decision to play an unchanged team tonight – it was a great chance for a victory. However, I would like to see some rotation at Villa, given that I see the trip to Napoli as absolutely massive and our biggest game of the season by far. Maddison played through obvious discomfort in the second half, so I’d rather rest him than lose him for a month as he is our standout player right now.
LEICESTER: Schmeichel 5, Castagne 5, Thomas 6, Evans 6, Soyuncu 5, Ndidi 4, Soumare 4, Barnes 5, Lookman 6, Maddison 8, Vardy 6. Subs: Dewsbury-Hall 7, Perez 6, Daka 5.
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