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O'Grady inspires City comeback

Leicester City Reserves staged a remarkable comeback in the last eight minutes to recover from 2-0 down and even see a third 'goal' disallowed against Norwich City Reserves at Hinckley tonight.

The Premier Reserves League game will be remembered for right winger Max Gradel grabbing an extraordinary fifth goal in five successive outings, four of them counting and the fifth being scored in the abandoned reserves match against Ipswich.

Gradel was introduced just six minutes from time with the score 2-1. But in his first taste of action he took a pass on the right side on the box, saw his initial shot parried but coolly turned in the rebound for City's equaliser.

Leicester had looked doomed when they turned around 2-0 down against fast-countering Norwich.

Despite first team reinforcements such as Elvis Hammond, Chris O'Grady and Joe Hamill, Leicester looked disjointed and their defence desperately vulnerable at times.

Norwich took an early lead through their skipper and centre-forward Ian Henderson after City's defence was sliced open by Dickson Etuhu who controlled midfield until his sustitution early in the second half.

It did seem as if O'Grady had equalised when he jinked through the visitors rearguard only to see his goalbound strike thwarted by a spectacular last-ditch sliding clearance.

Norwich doubled their lead with a strange goal. Hammond took a blow in the back just outside the Norwich penalty area and although emerging unchallenged with the ball he went down apparently badly hurt, leaving the ball loose.

No foul being given Norwich moved swiftly down the field and with Leicester losing concentration completely, right winger Robert Eagle was able to swerve a right foot shot around goalkeeper Conrad Logan. Hammond swiftly recovered.

Leicester never showed their usual smooth style in the first half and loanee left-back Rufus Brevett was seriously exposed at times being clearly short of both pace and practise.

On one occasion Henderson fed Ryan Jarvis who simply glided past the ex-Plymouth left-back but sidefooted a simple chance at Logan. Brevett then made some amends with a vital goalline clearance when Logan was himself beaten minutes later.

Individually, Leicester had their moments with O'Grady in particular proving a constant menace for sometimes three and four defenders at once.

Times he turned markers and had decent strikes on goal but all were either stopped by Norwich goalkeeper Joe Lewis or deflected to safety.

Hammond too headed and volleyed over before Leicester reorganised at half-time and gradually started dominating the game.

Morris had a shot deflected, O'Grady missed a simple chance from a Jay Smedley cross and other opportunities came and went before Wykes replaced Brevett and City's threat became greater.

They should have had a penalty when O'Grady clearly flicked the ball back and a defender handled but when Hammond burst clean through and blasted high from eight yards it seemed as if nothing would go Leicester's way.

Suddenly however, with time running out, the floodgates opened. O'Grady was fouled near the penalty spot and got up to send Lewis the wrong way with his spot kick 10 minutes from time.

The introduction of Gradel then brought instant reward with an equaliser, both goals coming within minutes of each other and it was not much longer before Hammond broke through once more, saw his first shot blocked, blasted in the rebound and had the effort disallowed for an infringement.

Finally Gradel could so easily have pinched a winner, heading a Smedley cross goalwards only for Lewis to belatedly deflect the ball over the bar.

Had it been a boxing match the game would have been stopped in those closing 10 minutes to save Norwich taking further punishment but somehow they held out and the match finished a draw.

Individually O'Grady was a constant threat with his pace, trickery and willingness to shoot, Hammond wasted so much good work by trying to blast his final shots home instead of placing them and Max Gradel did what he always seems to do, score and look dangerous.

Once more the modest crowd were treated to virtually non-stop incident and entertainment despite City's disappointing first half.

Leicester: Logan, Smedley, Brevett, Porter, Lycett, Franklin, Hamill, Dodds, O'Grady, Hammond, Morris. Subs used: Wykes and Gradel.

Norwich: Joe Lewis, Jurgen Colin (Bally Smart 54), Rossi Jarvis, Andrew Fisk, Michael Spillane, Andrew Cave-Brown, Lee Howlett, Ryan Jarvis, Ian Henderson (Patrick Bexfield 54), Dickson Etuhu (Asmat El Ouargui 54), Robert Eagle

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The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 6 2006

Time: 10:54PM

 

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