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

Rare win earns City taste of freedom

The Young Ones scored the goals which gave Leicester City their first win at QPR for 20 years last night and lifted them out of the Championship relegation zone on goal difference.

Stephen Hughes' 88th minute winner, thanks to Stearman's selfless pass, clinched the points after it had seemed that City's last-quarter hoodoo was going to ruin their night...

Remarkably Leicester have conceded 13 goals this season, or 32.5 per cent overall in the last 15 minutes of matches.

And that tally went up to 14 from 40 conceded when big centre-back Danny Shittu equalised at 2-2 for Queens Park Rangers after 83 minutes.

But instead of wilting, Leicester simply picked themselves up and continued trying to do what manager Rob Kelly had demanded they do from the start - win the game.

Fans have said all season City cannot avoid conceding goals and would therefore have to score some instead.

And so it proved once more as Rangers used their massive aerial advantage.

The difference tonight was that the Young Ones never entertained self-doubt and full-back Richard Stearman just typified their approach.

Stearman scored one, made one and gave one away in the space of 10 minutes but proved the value of a truly attacking full-back and essentially ensured what might prove one of the most vital wins of the club's history.

Indeed it was only City's second away win all season.

The game started badly. Some fans couldn't understand the continued selection of Maybury in midfield, Johansson at left back or the absence of Wesolowski, who was left on the bench.

And they were in deeper despair within six minutes when Gareth Ainsworth headed home Lee Cook's for Rangers opener.

With Johansson looking vulnerable at left back, and Rangers big strikers threatening as expected Leicester's prospects looked bleak. But Fryatt plundered an equaliser when he evaded two challenges, benefitted from a kindly bounce and grabbed his second goal in two matches.

Then chance took a hand. Gareth Williams left the field with a dead leg and James Wesolowski took over in midfield.

The young Australian was soon busily involved probing, competing, cajoling but it was the 79th minute before he delivered the precision pass for Richard Stearman to volley Leicester into the lead from only six yards out.

Stearman then put the only black mark on his good evening's work when he lost possession unnecessarily and a foul by Johansson on Ainsworth allowed Cook to flight a free-kick from which Danny Shittu headed his equaliser.

City's anticipated weakness against aerial crosses had been exposed but still they chased the game and it was the irrepressible Stearman who made the purposeful run which allowed him to tee up Stephen Hughes's winner six minutes from time.

In winning, City reversed a 3-2 defeat in last year's away fixture and gained revenge for defeat at The Walkers earlier this season.

Results went Leicester's way allowing them to climb above Brighton on goal difference for their efforts.

McCarthy and Kisnorbo, despite huge opponents, looked a determined and capable partnership in defence, Chris O'Grady was outstanding during his 20-minute appearance towards the end and the whole side showed they had the spirit for the fight ahead which was a credit to the manager.

Leicester: Douglas, Stearman, McCarthy, Kisnorbo, Johansson, Maybury, Williams (Wesolowski 15),Gudjonsson, Hughes, Hume (O'Grady 68), Fryatt. Subs not used: Hammond, Smith, Gerrbrand.

QPR: Royce, Bignot, Shittu, Santos, Rose, Ainsworth (Donnelly 84), Lomas, Langley, Cook, Furlong (Moore 85), Nygaard (Baidoo 65). Not used: Kus, Taylor.

Attendance: 11,785.

Bookings: City: Johansson, McCarthy, Maybury. QPR Rose, Santos.






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The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday January 31 2006

Time: 10:56PM

 

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