FROM ZAMBIA WITH LOVE

Spartak Moscow 3 Foxes 4

Match Report by Graham Tracey

As if coming from behind for a rousing 4-2 at home on Saturday wasn’t entertaining enough, our players dialled up the excitement to maximum by coming from two down to win 4-3 amid snow flurries to cap a European campaign-saving victory in Moscow. I’ve never had to take time off work to watch a Leicester game on telly before, but if we played this well every time then I’d happily use up my entire annual leave!

The match would have lived long in the memory even if we had four different goal scorers. As it was, Patson Daka bagged all four. I couldn’t remember anyone else scoring four for us in the 40 years since I first went to Filbert Street – but I was gobsmacked to learn it was the first such feat since 1958.

The likeable Zambian declared afterwards “there is nothing to hate about Leicester” – music to our ears as he showed exactly why our talent spotters believed he is the next generation Vardy. Indeed his lethal finishing – including 3 one-on-ones – stirred memories of so many JV goals in our title season.

The first piece of good news was that all our paperwork was in order and everyone was let into the country. The second was that Rodgers went strong, as he had to after the debacle of losing to such weak opposition in Warsaw. It was a relief to see Jonny Evans fit to play back-to-back games, and good to see Luke Thomas back in the thick of it.

We nearly repeated our goal from kick-off trick from Saturday, forcing a corner that was nearly converted. In an open start to the game, we created half a dozen openings in the first quarter of an hour, Maddison and Tielemans forcing saves. However, Spartak showed they could break with purpose, and took a 12th minute lead when a weak shot diverted off Soumare and crept in at the near post.

Despite the bad luck, it was still poor on our part to stand off and increase the risk of a deflection. There was no immediate cause for concern, as Madders was pulling the strings to back up his weekend return to form, and we looked dangerous at set pieces. Daka had a couple of sights of goal but couldn’t find the composure on these occasions.

Disaster struck shortly before the interval, when Soyuncu (who otherwise proved Rodgers’ assertion that Evans improves those around him with a no nonsense performance) dithered on the touchline, and once robbed of the ball Spartak swiftly crossed low for a smart finish. The sort of goal that fans think should never be conceded, but which modern managers seem to accept as a price worth paying for playing out from the back.

At this point, our hopes of even securing second place in the group seemed slim. However, a monumental lifeline was immediately granted with virtually the last kick of the half, as Daka was played through by a clever Iheanacho chip to finish to a classic ‘away goal hush’.

It was difficult to know what the second half would hold, and I braced myself to stay calm and patient. However, within minutes Thomas superbly slid in Iheanacho, and the senior man squared for Daka to tap home. We were absolutely dominant now, and our small band of intrepid travelling fans were rewarded when Tielemans played through Daka with ease, who stroked home with his left foot. As ever, Iheanacho was a joy to watch with his control and selfless play. It is amazing to recall how hapless his early seasons were, given how technically gifted and intelligent his play now is.

The fourth goal was a carbon copy of the third, this time Maddison playing through Daka for possibly his best finish. While we held on to win, there were some late concerns:

1) Tielemans took himself off, seemingly worried about incurring a muscle injury.

2) Giving Evans a rest when we’re two up is clearly not enough of a cushion, because as soon as Vestergard came on Spartak dissected us for a third to prompt a nervous last few minutes.

3) There was a sour end when a Spartak player was disgracefully not sent off for a leg-breaking attempt on Albrighton.

With home games coming up against the weaker two teams of Spartak and Legia, our destiny is back in our own hands. This formation has led to us finding our feet – tough though it is to leave Barnes (and Lookman) on the bench, it shows our options and strength in depth. To win two key matches without Ndidi also demands praise for Soumare – indeed the match shows our recruitment team have found two more diamonds.

What a difference five days makes – with the domestic league table still congested we will fancy ourselves to leapfrog a few teams if we can keep our shooting boots on (and improve the defending).

FOXES: Schmeichel 6, Ricardo 5, Amartey 6, Soyuncu 7, Evans 7, Thomas 7, Soumare 8, Tielemans 8, Maddison 8, Iheanacho 8, Daka 10. Subs: Albrighton, Choudhury, Bertrand, Vestergard.

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

Late Goal Rush – City’s Kick-start for the Season?

Leicester City 4 Manchester United 2  –  16 October 2021

Report by Tish Krokosz

I think it is fair to say that, prior to this match, City’s season had not really got going. The stuttering start showed some moments of promise, but no consistency. Brendan Rodgers recognised this and had stated that the international break gave him a chance to review the situation and come up with a fresh start – as if he was walking into his job for the first day. His first opponents were to be the Red Devils from Manchester, so it was fascinating to see the team sheet that would bring about this change in fortunes.

The first surprise was to see Amartey join Evans and Söyüncü in a back three. Who would have the unenviable task of keeping Ronaldo off the scoresheet? It was good to see Evans return from injury and illness as everyone believes he brings stability and confidence to the defence. No Barnes or Lookman – instead Rodgers was relying on Castagne and Pereira to help out in defence when required but also provide a width on the wings.

Despite plenty of early pressure by City, it was the visitors who were on the scoresheet first. Their attacks on the right wing were proving to be more successful than from the left and it was from this source that the danger arrived. Greenwood, who had already shown his speed, came in from the right and accelerated towards the penalty area leaving Castagne floundering. He gave Schmeichel no chance with a perfectly placed shot into the top left-hand corner. This was generally against the run of play and seemed a little unfair on City.

They rallied well. Maguire, who most pundits thought would be left out of the side after recent injury, was having a torrid time, especially against Iheanacho. On the half-hour, the ex-City defender was slow to react to a pass by De Gea and was robbed by the Nigerian. He saw that Tielemans was unmarked and rolled the ball to him. Then, did he cross the ball towards the advancing Vardy, or did he place it out of De Gea’s reach in the top left-hand corner on purpose? City fans did not care. This goal was a deserved equaliser and was a fitting punishment for Maguire, who had been sloppy and cynical until then.

City played several more good moves in the first half and may have been rewarded with further goals if Iheanacho had been more successful with his shots. The home crowd had become quite frustrated with the referee throughout the first 45 minutes. I suppose his interpretation of letting the game flow was more generous than the crowd’s view, but, as the break approached, he did acknowledge the clumsy or cynical stops that were being carried out by the red shirts. Unfortunately, any free kicks given were unproductive.

Solskjaer did not make any changes at half-time and his team continued with the same tactics in the second half. At least the referee recognised this and started to give yellow cards as well as freekicks. Maddison and Vardy, in particular, were victims of the visitors’ fouls. Rashford came on for Sancho in the 65th minute to try and bring more danger down the left-hand side, but it was still City who generally had more chances.

Pérez came on for Maddison soon after. The latter had been far more constructive in this game than in any other this season and so it was surprising to see that the tempo increased even further after this change. City’s midfield was much more aggressive than their opponents and, with fifteen minutes to go, after one such challenge, Tielemans was able to take the ball towards the penalty area and unleashed a fierce shot similar to his goal in the FA Cup Final. De Gea managed to get fingertips on to the ball and diverted it on to the post and it ran to safety.

United countered immediately by a quick break down the other end of the field where Schmeichel had to be alert to stop a Ronaldo attempt on goal. Iheanacho looked as if he was tiring, so Rodgers brought on Daka in his place. The Zambian replacement had an immediate effect and his first touch was a shot at goal which De Gea saved with his feet. The ensuing corner was not dealt with effectively by the United defence and after a couple of rebounds the ball fell to Söyüncü a couple of yards from the goal-line and he thumped it into the net. There was a brief moment of concern whilst this was checked by VAR and there was mighty roar when it was confirmed as a goal. With only 12 minutes to go to the end of the match, City fans were in high spirits, expecting this to be the winner. We were only half way through the number of goals scored, let alone attempts on goal!

The cheers disappeared three minutes later when Lindelöf sent a ball down the centre of the park to an alert Rashford who was unmarked. He was able to control the ball and ran towards goal with Evans some way behind him. He unleashed a powerful shot that Schmeichel had little chance of saving. Suddenly, the home crowd was much quieter. But not for long.

From the kick-off, the ball came to Castagne on the left wing. He rushed forward and was brutally hacked down by Wan-Bissaka, but not before poking the ball forward to an advancing Pérez. He was able to take the ball almost to the bye-line and cleverly pass it to an unmarked Vardy. With the outside of his right foot he hammered the ball beyond De Gea’s despairing stretched left hand and City were in front again.

Wave after wave of attacks brought more chances for both sides. In the 85th minute City had three shots at goal from inside the penalty area all blocked by a desperate United defence. On the stroke of the full 90 minutes a further City approach was snuffed by Wan-Bissaka, who tried to be clever and take the ball out of the penalty area to safety. He was not aware that Vardy was on fire and closing him down. The City talisman cleverly positioned himself between the ball and the defender and the latter could not stop himself bundling the 34-year-old over.

This was a good position to take some time over the free kick and wind down the clock. No chance! Tielemans whipped in the free kick into the danger area and, once again, the inept United defence did not clear the ball, but allowed it to drift to Daka, who was able to tap the ball into the net.

Five minutes of added time was still enough for the visitors to have one more chance at scoring. You do not want to give Ronaldo an easy opportunity so close to the end of a match but it was a relief to see him fluff a sitter.

The home crowd were ecstatic at the end of a pulsating match. A 4-2 victory for City would not have been predicted by many pundits before kick-off, yet it was fully deserved. It was way ahead of any other City performance this season and it was a joy to watch if you were a City fan or even a neutral. The whole match was an exciting spectacle. I did not expect the visitors to be so poor, especially in midfield. They gave City so much space that their only method of stopping us was to conduct several cynical fouls. In all, three of their players were booked and quite correctly.

Hopefully, this may act as a kick-start to the City season. It is long overdue. It was great to see that the home team has not lost its va-va-voom. When passes do not go astray and find the critical players who can engineer an attractive and effective attacking style such as this, then there is hope that our team will progress further up the table.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Pereira, Amartey, Evans (Vestergaard 88), Söyüncü, Castagne, Soumaré, Tielemans, Maddison (Pérez 73), Iheanacho (Daka 77), Vardy. Subs not used: Ward, Bertrand, Choudhury, Albrighton, Barnes, Lookman

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw, Matic (McTominay 80), Pogba, Greenwood (Lingard 80), Fernandes, Sancho (Rashford 65), Ronaldo. Subs not used: Henderson, Bailly, Mata, Dalot, Telles, van de Beek

Referee: C. Pawson          Attendance: 32,219

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

COVID Checks at Premier League Matches

The Premier League has asked the Football Supporters Association and its member organisations to share some important messaging around COVID certification requirements and public health behaviours. 

The Premier League has published this article to outline the importance of fans being able to provide a COVID pass or alternative proof of double vaccination: It can be found on their website: League updates matchday protocols for fans at matches (premierleague.com) and on Twitter

Key messages are:

•        Only attend a match if you have a valid NHS COVID Pass or can show alternative proof that you have been fully vaccinated or have registered a negative COVID test result in the previous 48 hours, as close to matchday as possible. Tests can be ordered for free here.

•        Be ready with your valid NHS COVID pass, which should be downloaded via the NHS app in advance as the approval process may take several days Link

•        Expect staff to check your COVID certification on entry

•        If you do not comply with the guidance, you may be refused entry or asked to leave the stadium

•        Do not attend a match if you are unwell or there is a risk of transmitting COVID-19.

•        Follow good public health behaviors – wash your hands, take regular COVID-19 tests.

•        Follow the Supporter Code of Conduct.

All clubs will be conducting spot checks and have the authority to refuse entry (this will be at each club’s discretion).  

This information is being shared with all Premier League Supporters Liaison Officers (SLO).  If you have any questions specific to our club’s checking procedures or COVID-19 certification, the Premier League recommend you contact our club’s SLO directly.

Leicester City have published full details on their website LCFC – Leicester City Official Website

Quiz Night – This Friday

In 2020, Foxes Pride celebrated their 5th birthday, due to the pandemic the original event was delayed, but this Friday (15th) is their rearranged quiz evening.

It starts at 7pm. Teams can be up to 10 people, but if you come on your own, you join in with one of the teams

Tickets are £12.50 which include a basket meal and your first drink

The night will include appearances from Leicester City legends, a charity auction of LCFC player worn items, a raffle and the fun quiz More details are available here Foxes Pride 5th (6th) Birthday Quiz Night Tickets

Daniel Iversen

In our occasional series of progress reports on players loaned out, today Preston fan Geoff Ollerton provides an early season report..

“Daniel returned to Preston just prior to the season starting and was on the bench for the opener v Hull. He was soon brought on to replace the injured Declan Rudd but it wasn’t a great start as we conceded four that day. 

Since then he has been playing well although we did lose three games early on, not that he was at fault. 

He has now got back into the form that we know he can produce some of his reaction saves are amazing. He is an exceptional goalkeeper and makes a huge difference to the team, he is in the same form that made him outstanding last term when he was voted player of the year. 

He is well liked by teammates and supporters who are all agreed that it’s a good move by PNE to get him signed up for the full season. The most important thing is that he appears to be very happy here and long May that continue. “