SCOUT'S REPORT: LEICESTER CITY
LATE RUDY HEADER MOVES CITY FOUR CLEAR
It was another point gained for Cardiff City on Tuesday night, extending their lead at the summit to four points with a game in hand.
The Bluebirds started brightly but Leicester were resilient, Chris Wood going close for the visitors. Peter Whittingham tested Kaspar Schmeichel from a set piece and Cardiff's best chance of the half came when Craig Noone volleyed over from close range. Mark Hudson was instrumental in keeping a calm back line, but picked up a knock to his ankle that forced him to be withdrawn for the second half.
Cardiff were in the ascendancy for much of the first period, but the ideas started to run out as Leicester came up with some of their own. Wood was denied by a fantastic David Marshall save but could do nothing when Michael Keane's headed effort crossed the line. Cardiff responded in emphatic fashion deep into injury time though, when the superb Andrew Taylor produced a carbon copy of the cross that secured a point against Derby. This time it was Rudy Gestede at the ready, heading into the far corner to give Schmeichel no chance.
Cardiff started authoritatively with good pressure off the ball putting Leicester on the back foot, culminating with an Aron Gunnarsson long throw that Craig Conway was adjudged to have handled inside the Foxes' box at the vital moment. Gunnarsson picked the ball up in the middle of the park after good work from Conway, playing a visionary ball out wide to Noone on the right. The winger got the better of Jeffrey Schlupp and played it back to Connolly, the right back's cross the wrong side of Campbell. Cardiff continued to keep the ball in dangerous areas and Gunnarsson played a one-two with Campbell before his deflected shot gave Leicester a breather.
Chris Wood then unleashed a shot of of the blue that Marshall could only parry as far as Lloyd Dyer, the follow up effort deflected by Connolly. Foxes top scorer David Nugent was then booked for a challenge on Conway, and Noone won a similar free kick on the right, both Bluebirds wingers getting the better of the full backs in the opening periods. Whittingham tested Schmeichel with a low effort from the dead ball, but the ex-Cardiff stopper was aware.
Schlupp showed a willingness to break forward for the visitors when he found his self in space on the left, his low cross collected by Marshall comfortably. A Gunnarsson long throw placed perfected into the six yard box was flicked on by Ben Nugent, but the ball didn't carry enough pace to beat Schmeichel. St. Ledger was then booked for a challenge similar to David Nugent's on Conway, Leicester's right side on thin ice for the remainder of the game. The Foxes were threatening on the break, Nugent hitting an ambitious effort that flew wide of Marshall's right post.
On twenty-five minutes another Whittingham free kick on the right side was whipped in and defended only as far as Tommy Smith, the veteran connecting well with his volley but the effort was always rising. Noone then picked up a booking for an innocuous challenge after appearing to be fouled his self.
A lull in play ensued as Cardiff kept the ball whilst captain Mark Hudson received treatment on the sidelines, and the commanding centre back's return to the field of play was greeted with large applause. The action started again with Whittingham playing a lovely ball out wide to Conway who crossed, Noone volleying over with Campbell just behind him waiting to pounce. Leicester then played a neat string of passes around the Cardiff area culminating in a Dyer shot, his effort flying over.
The half drew to a close with a commanding spell of Cardiff City possession, keeping the ball with excellent one touch passing across the park, probing for an opening. Timely Mark Hudson interventions kept Cardiff secure at the back, Leicester threatening most down the left through Lloyd Dyer, the pacey winger putting two crosses in that were caught by Marshall and headed out respectively. The half drew to a close with all to play for in the second.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0–0 LEICESTER CITY
Substitution Cardiff: Kevin McNaughton on for Mark Hudson (HALF TIME)
Substitution Cardiff: Craig Bellamy on for Craig Noone (HALF TIME)
Hudson's injury forced the skipper off at half time, with McNaughton coming in at right back shifting Connolly to the centre. Bellamy returned to action up front, moving Smith out wide in place of the booked Noone.
The Bluebirds came out of the blocks much as they had ended the first, controlling tempo and patiently building. Nugent threatened from a Dyer cross after Drinkwater picked the ball up in the middle and sprayed a good ball wide, but the shot never troubled Marshall.
McNaughton was called into action and responded magnificently when a square ball rolled across Marshall's six yard box, the defender sliding to stop any effort on goal. Leicester's resultant corner was a gut-wrenching, the ball dropping teasingly a few yards out before Marshall dived and collected. McNaughton then started Cardiff's best chance of the half so far knocking the ball into Smith's path who stormed down the right, crossing to Campbell who was inches from converting with an acrobatic diving header.
The tide started to turn with Leicester wasting a fantastic opportunity when Nugent played through Wood, the striker beating the Cardiff defence for pace before placing a low shot that Marshall somehow kept out. At the other end, Gunnarsson's cross nearly deceived Schmeichel, the ball bouncing agonisingly off the bar before dropping out for a goal kick.
Substitution Leicester: Harry Kane on for Richie Wellens (63 mins)
Leicester were now looking a better outfit than in the first half, expressing their selves with direct balls to wide positions. Cardiff were struggling to retain possession, prompting Malky Mackay to bring on Rudy Gestede for Cardiff's third and final substitution.
Substitution Cardiff: Rudy Gestede on for Craig Conway (69 mins)
Michael Keane then went closest so far when his header hit the crossbar from a St. Ledger corner, and Cardiff failed to clear properly. The Foxes made no mistake second time around, the on loan Manchester United centre back heading home with his second bite of the apple from inside the six yard box.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0–1 LEICESTER CITY (Michael Keane , 71 mins)
Cardiff responded through Craig Bellamy, now in a wide left position, who took it past St. Ledger with pace, playing a low cross that Leicester knocked away. Cardiff were struggling to find an opening, although the work rate was still very much evident.
Substitution Leicester: Jamie Vardy on for David Nugent (80 mins)
Campbell nearly connected with an acrobatic effort and Rudy sent a good header over the bar from Whittingham's delivery as Cardiff probed for an equaliser. A corner on the eighty sixth galvanised the crowd, and Bellamy delivered but Schmeichel collected authoritatively. Gestede was winning the aerial battle, and a knock down to Whittingham on the edge of the box could have yielded better results but the City play-maker fired wide.
Substitution Leicester: Martyn Waghorn on for Chris Wood (88 mins)
McNaughton then beat his man with great footwork, playing a ball to the far post where Bellamy awaited to tap the ball across goal, however Campbell couldn't get the vital touch. Gestede fired another header at Schmeichel as four minutes of stoppage time were announced, but when it seemed like Cardiff were out of of ideas the team delivered. Taylor put a teasing cross toward the far post, with Gestede rising magnificently to meet it. He finished with aplomb and CCS erupted.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1–1 LEICESTER CITY (92 mins)
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 LEICESTER CITY