Date:Saturday March 11 2006
Twenty-year-old Leicester City substitute Chris O'Grady scored a winning goal two minutes from time against Luton that he will surely remember for the rest of his life.
Not only was it his first League or Cup goal for the club but it was a goal which will surely ensure Leicester's survival in championship football.
Mathematically, it is still possible for Leicester to falter.
But it was said City needed play-off standard results to lift themselves our of the relegation pit and O'Grady's goal to earn a 2-1 win at Kenilworth Road, continued just such a run.
Rob Kelly's revitalised side made it an extraordinary 17 points from their last eight League games and lifted themselves to 16th in the table, 10 points away from the relegation places.
In some ways the winner was fortuitous.
A long Richard Stearman clearance reached another substitute, Andy Welsh and his hard,low cross-cum-shot was turned home to delight and probably amaze the 1,800 travelling fans.
It was O'Grady's first goal of an official season in a City shirt and it took Leicester's League record under Kelly to five wins, two draws and a defeat.
O'Grady only replaced the exhausted Hume 10 minutes from the end of a half when City had seemed lucky to survive at times.
They had taken a 15th minute lead through Matty Fryatt who ended a run of five games without scoring by notching his fourth goal in 10 Championship starts.
It was a cool strikers finish from a speculative through ball by Gareth Williams which Luton defender Leon Barnett failed to deal with.
The error left Fryatt completely clear and he clinically despatched the chance past the fast advancing Beresford.
Leicester's lively start fell away and Luton, led by the marauding Steve Howard so nearly equalised with a 32nd minute header from close range which hit a post.
Fryatt had a chance to increase Leicester's lead blocked by Davis before half-time but Luton redoubled their efforts in the second half.
Wayne Feeney had a penalty appeal turned down after colliding with Stearman and City keeper Paul Henderson but on 53 minutes a City fell victim to their set-piece weakness.
Paul Underwood's corner was flicked on by Coyne and Howard headed his 13th goal of the season from close range.
Leicester eased the pressure through the introduction of substitute winger Andy Welsh for Stephen Hughes in the 64th minute and despite timely, brave or desperate clearances from Stearman, Kisnorbo, Maybury and McCarthy,
Welsh finally fashioned the dramatic breaththrough minutes from time.
Rob Kelly had spoken about every member of the team playing a part in time and so it was today for the substitutes.
But victory was also hewn from steadfast defending.
Luton has never been an easy place to collect victories but City showed themelves willing to dive in where it hurt if necessary, inspired by returning skpper Paddy McCarthy.
Their distribution from defence was never impressive and often put the team under such presure that they could as easily have lost. And the lack of a natural winger was increasingly missed once Leicester had gone ahead.
But, if Kelly has rivals for his job, which is hardly to seriously imagine, this was the best possible reply.
With eight games left and their closest relegation rival Millwall probably needing to effectively pull back 11 points on them in only eight games remaining it will take a collapse as extaordinary as their winning streak to drag City back into trouble. And they go to Millwall next week.
Today's game wasn't always prime time entertainment. But the celebrated Fryatt/Hume strikeforce struck gold again, O'Grady claimed an unforgetable winner, Welsh was involved with his second assist in successive matches and the team ethic seemed stronger than ever.
City: Henderson, Stearman, McCarthy ©, Kisnorbo, Johansson, Maybury, Williams, Gudjonsson, Hughes (Welsh 64), Fryatt, Hume (O'Grady 80). Subs not used: Brevett, Logan, Gerrbrand.
Luton: Beresford, Foley, Davis, Coyne, Underwood (Showunmi 69), Edwards, Nicholls © (Bell 8), Vine (Feeney 45), Howard, Holmes, Barnett. Subs not used: Perrett, Brill.
City: Gudjonsson (41), Hume (45)
Luton: Howard (43), Coyne (72)
Referee: A Bates
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|Man Utd||3||-||1||Leicester City|
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|Hull City||0||-||1||Leicester City|
|16. Aston Villa||22||5||7||10||-14||22|
|18. Hull City||23||4||7||12||-13||19|
|20. Leicester City||23||4||5||14||-16||17|
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