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Match Report: Leicester City 3-1 Birmingham City (Leicester City Fan's Perspective)

Thursday 15th March 2012
Leicester City bounced back  in a hard fought encounter from a goal down to win 3-1 against a visiting Birmingham City team, who continued their fall from grace and fell further away from the Championship Play-Off positions.

The game started off slowly, with a pick & mix of half-hearted chances for both sides; Neil Danns had the best of these efforts from just inside the penalty box, but failing to bother Boaz Myhill's goalmouth for the home side within the opening ten minutes.

After a raft of questionable decisions made by the referee Mick Russell concerning goal-kicks/throw-ins awarded to  the visiting team, the home crowd were left further frustrated after Tom Kennedy and Sol Bamba were deemed to have simultaneously brought down towering striker Nikola Zigic in the area; the consequences were a well-taken penalty by Wade Elliot, whose calmly taken strike put Chris Hughton's men 1-0 up away from home.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued from the restart, with a David Nugent effort replicating the earlier chance by Danns by sending the ball just wide of Myhill's right goalpost. Zigic then went and nearly contributed to a second goal for the Brum but  the Serbian's headed effort from the edge of the six-yard box reverberated off the woodwork behind a beaten Kasper Schmeichel.

However, it was the home-side who were the next to score; Beckford's well deserved equaliser came in the form of a simple tap-in from close range after a short cross from an impressive Tom Kennedy sent Leicester level heading and the home fan's satisfied as the game reached half time.

An uneventful ten minutes of football plagued the game as the second half commenced, with both sides struggling to take the reins of the game. Two free-kicks from the returning Paul Gallagher from injury threatened to threaten Myhill's net, but the host floundered both opportunities as Birmingham dismissed them; a stereotypically organised and ordered Chris Hughton side proved heavily resistant.

It was in fact Hughton's men who next went closest to scoring, with Chris Burke exposing Leicester's frailties in the form of Shaun St.Ledger, deputising at right-back, by bursting through the defensive ranks and provoking a fine save from Schmeichel after a left-footed effort on 63 minutes.

The end-to-end kept up it's reputation shortly afterwards, with a spectacular effort from an impressive Ritchie Wellens forced Myhill into a parried save, as Leicester continued to pressurise. With the introduction of Marlon King for Birmingham causing reason for noise from both sets of fans, Birmingham nearly snatched the lead on 79 minutes, only for a promising looking counter-attack to peter out.

Moments later, Leicester showed the visitors how it's done; Kennedy again turning provider in an impressive performance for the fringe player, after lofting a ball forward in typical 'route-one' style for Jeffrey Schlupp to latch onto and calmly tuck away in the back of the net. 2-1.

Birmingham then had no choice but to push men forward up the pitch, often provoking concern in their initial build-up play but very rarely threatening the Leicester City defensive line. Jermaine Beckford doubled his tally moments from the end of the game, after another lofted ball, this time from substitute Ben Marshall, found the controlling left boot of Beckford's and subsequently found it's way into the back of the net as part of the final kick of the game.

How fortunes can change; Chris Hughton's inability to prevent loss leaves Birmingham without a win in three games, on the back of a fifteen game unbeaten run dating back to the early stages of December last year. With little in the way of striking threat other than a predictable determination to get the ball out wide and supply from the wings for towering striker Zigic, Hughton will be keen to alter his teams work ethic in the final third in upcoming training sessions.

Defeat at Leicester leaves the Brum still just a point off of the play-off's,  with a home tie against high-flying Middlesbrough awaiting them this coming weekend.

As for Leicester, three points against Birmingham City will come as a pleasant result to those connected to the club, but with the play-off places still six points away and the season quickly approaching it's conclusion, Nigel Pearson will be hoping the result can spur his men on a much needed win-streak.

Perhaps more vital than the three points itself is the manner in which the team conducted itself; a steely determination to overcome a one goal deficit was paramount and successful, and showed management and fans alike that the Foxes can overcome adversity when faced with it.

Frailties such as the Gallagher/St.Ledger partnership on the right-hand side of the pitch and the vulnerable positioning of central midfielders Danns and Wellens will leave Pearson with work to do, but individual stand-out performances by the two goal-scorers Beckford and Schlupp aswell as an impressive display by left-back Tom Kennedy will undoubtedly satisfy Pearson.

Leicester face Chelsea next at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as the Foxes' look to extend their F.A Cup run to the semi-finals at Wembley.

Team Line-ups:

Leicester City:  Schmeichel, St.Ledger, Morgan, Bamba, Kennedy, Dyer, Wellens, Danns, Gallagher (Marshall 61'), Beckford, Nugent (Schlupp 70')

Birmingham City: Myhill, Spector (Pablo 10'), Davies, Caldwell, Ramage (Husklepp 81'), Burke, Fahey, N'Daw, Townsend, Elliot, Zigic (King 65')

Joe Diamond
Im Joe- an aspiring Sports Journalist student who likes to rant, rave, review, preview, question, and support all things Football.

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