Date:Saturday February 11 2006
Leicester City clinched a third successive Championship win for the first time since March/April 2003 to leap six points clear of the relegation places at Brighton today.
A relegation clash billed the most important game of City's season seemed almost over before the crowd had settled in their seats.
Leicester stormed into a two-goal lead courtesy of centre-back Paddy McCarthy and striker Iain Hume in the third and fourth minutes.
But being City they eventually made hard work of collecting what may turn out to be a status-saving victory.
Gradually City's forward momentum decreased and when, after 56 minutes, they allowed Alexandre Frutos to pull a goal back for Brighton the nerves started to show.
Goalkeeper Rab Douglas was badly at fault, punching woefully at a high cross from Dean Hammond and gifting an easy chance to Frutos from 15 yards.
Douglas continued to look uncertain later despite one important save when he tipped a Sebastien Carole shot around a post.
Leicester were not helped when midfielder James Wesolowski hobbled off to be replaced by Ryan Smith after 53 minutes.
This clearly affected Leicester's authority which had been built upon their crisp passing.
Smith didn't play badly on the ball but his running was clearly affected by a bug which has swept through the club and he was quickly replaced by Chris O'Grady.
Further minutes disappeared with the substitution of Hume by Patrik Gerrbrand.
Once again though, Leicester's backline held firm with McCarthy and Kisnorbo making vital interceptions and young Joe Gatting, making his full debut, wasting the two excellent chances for Brighton.
City skipper McCarthy, another bug victim, had made the perfect start for Leicester when he appeared at the far post to tap in City's third minute opener after a Joey Gudjonsson corner had been headed on at the near post with Brighton claiming a foul on their goalkeeper Henderson. It was McCarthy's second goal of the season.
Within barely a minute Leicester were 2-0 ahead and again Gudjonsson was the instigator, taking advantage of an error by Adam El Abd.
Breaking swiftly down the left he slipped a perfect pass inside to Hume who rounded Brighton keeper Henderson to score his fifth goal of the season into an empty net.
The game became inconsequential until Brighton manager Mark McGhee instilled more urgency into his team for the second half.
City gradually started concentrating more on frustrating their opponents than on attacking.
Iain Hume did whip one free kick narrowly wide and Fryatt charged down a Henderson clearance and only just failed to be first to the loose ball.
But in the end Leicester's resolute defensive work denied the opposition and exposed Brighton's shortage of genuinely potent strikers.
The home side even lost Dean Hammond near the end after a foul on Gudjonsson became his second bookable offence and thereafter only the referee playing three minutes longer in added time than the fourth official had indicated caused City particular consternation.
Had their been a goal, controversy would have raged, but as it was City left the south coast in celebratory mood and deservedly so.
With goal difference they are now six points going on seven clear of the relegation places and have now climbed above Sheffield Wednesday and Derby, who they entertain on Tuesday night.
Who could possibly replace caretaker manager Rob Kelly now was the fans message afterwards.
Happy days are here again.
Brighton: Henderson, El-Abd, McShane, Butters, Reid, Carole (Robinson 72), Hammond, Carpenter, Frutos, Hart, Gatting.
Leicester: Douglas, Stearman, McCarthy, Kisnorbo, Johansson, Hughes, Wesolowski (Smith 54, O'Grady), Gudjonsson, Gudjonsson, Sylla, Fryatt, Hume (Gerrbrand 86)
Referee: S. Tanner.
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|4. Derby County||19||10||4||5||+14||34|
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