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February 20, 2014 / ultrafox1963

City Show The Character Of Champions

 

Riyad Mahrez turns away after netting Foxes' equaliser

Riyad Mahrez turns away after netting Foxes’ equaliser

Goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez gave Leicester City a crucial point in a tempestuous, topsy-turvy clash at East Midlands neighbours Nottingham Forest last night.

The result leaves the Foxes 8 points clear at the top of the Championship table with 15 games of the regular season remaining. It also extended their run of unbeaten league games to 12.

City fielded the same starting list as in the previous game with Watford 11 days previously with Moore being forced to settle for a place on the bench despite recovering from injury. Forest, meanwhile, suffered a blow when ex-City defender Hobbs, a key figure in his side’s 2-0 win at Filbert Way in November, failed a pre-match fitness test.

Large swathes of empty seats remained in evidence as the sides kicked off – illustrating the failure of the home side’s ticket and pricing policy. The decision to cut the allocation for visiting fans, from 4700 two seasons ago to just 2000 last night, looked even more questionable.

Forest pressed strongly in the early stages, and had the better of the early chances as Schmeichel denied both Paterson and Collins. At the other end, City had opportunities from set-pieces but were unable to make the most of them.

However, the visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Morgan’s speculative through-ball caused needless panic in the home defence. The ball ran loose to Vardy who coolly despatched it into the unguarded home net.

The joyous mood among the travelling hordes was not to last, though. Only seven minutes later, a Reid corner was not fully cleared and Paterson’s header caught the City defence unaware to force the equaliser.

Within seconds, Vardy almost restored the visitors’ advantage, but was denied by a fine save from Darlow. As the action switched to the other end, Morgan dwelt far too long on the ball and was dispossessed by Mackie. His panic-stricken lunge conceded a penalty and earned himself a booking, although many home fans (and their manager) argued the punishment should have been more stringent.

Nevertheless, Reid sent Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot to give Forest a half-time lead.

The home side had the better of the early second-half exchanges, but City should have been back on terms on the hour-mark when Drinkwater set up Nugent from close-range only for the striker to miscue his effort wide.

Seconds later, the league leaders suffered a further setback when Konchesky’s badly-mistimed challenge on Mackie prompted referee Anthony Taylor to issue a red card.

However Forest seemed reluctant to exploit the advantage of the extra man, preferring to sit on their lead.

They were to be given cause to regret such caution. As the game entered the closing minutes, Drinkwater was pushed by Paterson in the Forest area to give the visitors a lifeline. With no Nugent, Konchesky or Wood on the field, the veteran Phillips assumed responsibility for the spot-kick.

Although Darlow pulled off a superb save, the ball ran loose for James to cross and Mahrez applied the finishing touch for his first goal in English football.

Forest pressed strongly for the remainder of the game, but the visiting defence held firm, with Wasilewski particularly impressive, and the final whistle arrived with City having safely sidestepped another potential banana skin.

As against Watford, the side were a long way short of their best, but once again its spirit and resilience saw it recover from a losing position to claim a point.

If these qualities are maintained during the run-in, it is surely a question of when, rather than if, City will be crowned league champions.

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