Brighton Battle For Point
27/01/09 - 7.45 p.m.
Attendance: 17,410 (428 away)
Brighton & Hove Albion battled hard for a well deserved point as they held league leaders Leicester to a goalless draw at the Walkers Stadium this evening.
Leicester were left to rue missed opportunities, mainly in the way of their two strikers Paul Dickov and Matty Fryatt who both missed good chances to win the game for the Foxes.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made one change to the side which beat Huddersfield 4-2 at the weekend, with Paul Dickov replacing Steve Howard, suffering from illness, up front.
Pearson's opposite number and former City manager Micky Adams handed a debut to once-loanee Fox Jason Jarrett in central midfield.
In bizarre circumstances, Brighton were forced to wear Leicester's third kit during the match; their own away kit deemed to clash with Leicester's royal blue according to referee Craig Pawson.
Neither side grasped any hold on the game in opening minutes, with goalscoring opportunities extremely limited. Leicester were feeling the loss of Howard up front, with Dickov boasting nowhere near the same amount of physical presence as his fellow forward.
The first chance of the game fell in the 10th minute when Fryatt raced down the right and cut inside before firing a shot which Brighton 'keeper John Sullivan was equal to.
Brighton fought back to produce a nervous moment for the Leicester defence when Chris Birchall sent a whipped cross in from the right hand side, which Nicky Forster could only poke wide of Martin's goal.
It looked as though Leicester had taken the lead after half an hour when Andy King's drive was deflected over the helpless Sullivan, but the ball bounced back off the bar. The subsequent follow up from Matty Fryatt was reacted to well by Sullivan, but the striker knew he should have done much better.
It was Forster again who was in the thick of the action for Brighton when he curled a right foot shot wide of goal.
Leicester's on-loan Tom Cleverley was handed with a good chance five minutes before half time when he connected with Andy King's clever through ball, but his eventual left foot shot went high of Sullivan's goal.
David Martin had to react quickly to Forster's powerful drive with three minutes of the half remaining, pouncing gratefully on the rebound.
The second half began in brighter fashion for the away side, the visitors almost capitalising on some mis-communication from Jack Hobbs and Martin in defence. However, Dean Cox's dangerous cross was dealt with by Hobbs for a corner.
Nigel Pearson made his first change for Leicester after 48 minutes when Joe Mattock replaced Bruno Berner in the left back spot.
The Foxes could have gone ahead in the 53rd minute when Fryatt rose highest to connect with Oakley's corner, but the striker's header fell onto the top of the net for a Brighton goal-kick.
Oakley was involved again 8 minutes later when he provided Dickov with a glorious opporunity from the right, but the striker's effort was aimed straight at the Brighton 'keeper.
David Livermore became the next threat to Leicester's goal when he unleashed a powerful shot after 65 minutes, but Martin was equal to it, pushing the ball away from danger.
Barry Hayles replaced Paul Dickov in the 73rd minute, and the big forward's presence was immediately felt as Leicester increased the pressure to search for a winner.
Fine play on the right wing from Kerrea Gilbert and Tom Cleverley in the 79th minute allowed Michael Morrison the opportunity to head goalbound, but his effort dropped disappointingly wide.
City came close once again, this time through King, but the midfielder's deflected effort clipped the post on its way out for a goal-kick.
Leicester had one final chance to seal all three points in stoppage time when the ball fell to Matty Fryatt from Cleverley's accurate cross, but the forward mis-timed his effort which sailed harmlessly over the bar.
The point extends Leicester's advantage at the top of League One to 10 points after the Mk Dons' 2-1 defeat to Leyton Orient, with Millwall having the opportunity to close the gap to 5 points with 2 games in hand.
Brighton's valuable point doesn't stop them from slipping into the relegation zone, following Orient's win.
Leicester: Martin, Gilbert, Morrison, Hobbs, Berner (53 Mattock), Oakley (c), Cleverley, King, Dyer, Fryatt, Dickov (73 Hayles)
Subs: Pentney, Gradel, Chambers
Brighton: Sullivan, Whing, Hinshelwood, El-Abd, Cox (87 Loft), Jarrett, Forster (c), Birchall, Livermore, Fraser, Elphick
Subs: Kuipers, McLeod, Hawkins, Fleetwood
Yellow Cards: Leicester: None; Brighton: None;
Referee: C L Pawson