Date:Sunday April 30 2006
Leicester City knocked off early from their Championship season effectively turning their backs on 2,000 travelling fans as they disappeared from the game at Southampton today.
It wasn't just that they lost their last match of 2005/2006 by 2-0 through a two-goals in three minutes salvo from Ricardo Fuller and Andrew Surman midway through the first half.
It was that they barely mustered a handful of worthwhile shots and were given a footballing lesson by an emerging Southampton side who might easily have had four goals or more.
Anyone doubting how much Joey Gudjonsson will be missed after his imminent move to Holland should have seen the ineffectiveness of Leicester's midfield in his absence with a back injury today.
For the home side it was like a Sunday drive through an empty Grand Canyon in the first half.
While Southampton fans buzzed about their wonderful young prospects Leicester had yet another look at veteran Danny Tiatto, who started once more and duly completed his season without a single win in any League match he'd begun, 11 matches in all.
They also looked again at Momo Sylla from half-time and once again his mistakes were more easily remembered than the two or three crosses he delivered.
It should be stressed that the match didn't matter a damn. Manager Rob Kelly had long done his job in ensuring our Championship survival for another season in the most difficult of circumstances.
Had he said beforehand that the game was a non-event, fair enough. But instead he said he wanted to win as something of a send-off for our 'marvellous' travelling fans.
In fact, Leicester seemed to mentally spend the afternoon on one of the local beaches.
After Nathan Dyer had hit the right hand post for Southampton on eight minutes, and Grzegorz Rasiak had thumped the sidenetting when a goal seemed certain, the Saints went ahead through Ricardo Fuller in the 23rd minute.
A high cross bounced off McCarthy and Johansson's attempted headed clearance only fell to the Jamaican international who prodded home his ninth goal of the season.
Reeling Leicester were completely floored only three minutes later when Southampton completed a classic one-two.
This time Fuller slightly miscontrolled the ball which took him out wide on the left but his pinpoint cross found Andrew Surman who netted clinically.
George Burley's Southampton dictated play almost from start to finish and Leicester's best effort wasn't until the closing quarter when substitute Chris O'Grady had a thunderous strike stopped then learned it wouldn't have counted had it gone in because of a foul by McCarthy.
Before that, however, in the 49th minute, Southampton seemingly scored a third goal only to find Raziak's effort from Fuller's cross was denied by a late offside decision.
Andy Welsh responded by having a header, following a Sylla cross, cleared off the line by Chris Baird and Fryatt put a rare chance wide but Leicester's efforts were faltering and not especially threatening.
When O'Grady replaced Welsh as City went 4-3-3, he quickly brought his diving save from Miller.
Elvis Hammond also joined City's attack in place of Tiatto for the last 10 minutes as City went 4-2-4 in desperation but it was they who came closest to conceding again in the closing minutes when Paul Henderson had to dive bravely at the feet of home substitute Prutton to prevent a goal.
And so city concluded their Championship campaign disappointingly and in 16th place.
Defeat was only their fourth in 16 League matches under Kelly and their fifth overall during the new regime, a commendable and vital achievement.
But anyone watching this performance and imagining Leicester would likely be serious play-off candidates next season would be deluding themselves.
All the match emphasised was how much City missed Gudjonsson, how much they missed Kisnorbo and how much more they require to be a noteworthy football team.
Southampton, in contrast, looked an excellent bet for future achievement.
City: Henderson, Stearman, Johansson, McCarthy ©, Maybury, Hughes, Williams (Sylla 45), Tiatto (Hammond 80), Welsh (O'Grady 61), Hume, Fryatt. Subs not used: Douglas, Gerrbrand.
Saints: Miller, Baird, Ostlund, Lundekvam © (Cranie 83), Bale, Dyer, Wright, Potter (Prutton 75), Surman, Fuller, Rasiak (Jones 81). Subs not used: Smith, McGoldrick.
City: McCarthy (59), Saints: Dyer (27).
Referee: M Fletcher.
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|Leicester City||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|Leicester City||1||-||0||Crystal Palace|
|1. Man City||14||9||2||3||+16||29|
|2. Leicester City||14||8||5||1||+8||29|
|3. Man Utd||14||8||4||2||+10||28|
|7. Crystal Palace||14||7||1||6||+5||22|
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