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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Two off in Boxing Day drama

Endless incident, controversy, two men sent off, two goals disallowed and a shot against a post ... no-one among the 22,520 crowd, could say the Leicester City/Millwall game was boring.

But, in the end it was Joey 'Mr Cool' Gudjonsson who rescued a point for Leicester and in the end it was two more vital home points dropped at the Walkers.

Leicester went behind after 27 minutes and, appropriately for Christmas, they were butchered down their left flank.

Nils Eric Johansson, at number three for the suspended Alan Sheehan, was metaphorically sliced open down the Millwall right by Alan Dunne and when his cross slid into the near post area McCarthy and goalkeeper Rab Douglas both went for the interception and McCarthy deflected the ball into his own goal.

For Douglas it was just one of a comedy of errors in the first half, including a 'goal' from a corner kick (disallowed because he was impended) but he did partly retrieve his reputation with some excellent saves towards the end.

But for Johansson there was no reprieve. He had needlessly given the ball away in the first place for Millwall's goal and found it hard to effect a decent pass throughout the half.

He was replaced at the break by Gareth Williams. Kisnorbo moved to left back, Leicester reverted from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 and what a dramatic climax the changes heralded.

First it was despair for Leicester as skipper Danny Tiatto, back in the side after a long spell out of favour, got himself sent off for two bookable fouls after 57 minutes, the second a professional foul on the halfway line.

This provoked the Leicester crowd into passionate reaction. Time and again they roared for fouls and finally referee G.Salisbury finally ruled a foul by Zak Whitbread on Elvis Hammond (it was debateable who fouled who first) as the latter reacted dramatically inside the penalty box.

Whatever the justice of it, Ice-cool midfielder Joey Gudjonsson slipped the penalty effortlessly and accurately past Millwall goalkeeper Colin Doyle for a 63rd minute equaliser and his seventh goal of the season.

Suddenly Millwall were looking rattled.

Their desperation increased minutes later when Millwall defender Paul Robinson upended Hammond on the edge of the box and became the second man to be red-carded.

Leicester sensed a scalp at last and when a Gudjonsson free-kick was blocked Williams smashed the rebound onto the base of an upright with ferocious power.

City might have had terriorial advantage but Millwall countered dangerously against City's reduced 3-man rearguard.

First a right wing cross by Branff produced a Bruce Dyer tap in that was disallowed for offside, then Jody Morris had a goalbound shot brilliantly blocked near the line by McCarthy and completing a trio of raids Branff brought a brilliant nearpost tip over from Douglas with a rasping volley

Hume blasted narrowly over for Leicester, Smith curled a left-footer similarly too high and Gudjonsson blasted wide as both sides fought exhaustion to chase the winner.

In the end Leicester took their inexplicably miserable run on to one win in nine games and their second successive 1-1 home draw made it four of the six points expected from successive games against bottom sides had been dropped.

There is no denying it was a thrilling game and there were some committed Leicester performances, particularly from Hume, Hammond, Smith, Williams, Gudjohnsson and McCarthy (despite his own goal).

But in the end City paid the price for further indiscipline (Tiatto's sending off), for their eternal weakness at left back and for missing their chances.

Basically the story of their season so far.




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Go on, get vitalled!

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 28 2005

Time: 12:52PM

 

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