Northampton 1-2 Leicester
31/01/09 - 3 p.m.
Attendance: 7,028 (1,356 away)
Leicester sustained their 10-point advantage at the top of League One with a hard-fought victory over a tough Northampton side at Sixfields earlier this afternoon.
Leon Constantine had put the home side 1-0 up with his goal after 15 minutes, but Steve Howard levelled things up from the spot just 5 minutes later. And it was Lloyd Dyer who sent home Leicester's winner after 73 minutes to hand Leicester another valuable three points.
Manager Nigel Pearson made two changes to his side which drew 0-0 with Brighton on Tuesday, recalling Steve Howard who returned after illness and Joe Mattock. Paul Dickov and the injured Bruno Berner were the two to make way for the Foxes.
The match started in a lively fashion for the home side, but got off to a sour beginning when Billy Clarke picked up a booking inside the first minute for a dive inside the Leicester penalty area.
It was Northampton who were causing all the early attacking problems, and almost capitalised on some lacklusture Leicester defender when Colin Larkin narrowly headed wide from Clarke's cross after 11 minutes.
It was no surprise to see the home side take the lead after 15 minutes when Leon Constantine reacted quickest in a goalmouth scramble to poke Northampton in front against the league leaders. Not even Kerrea Gilbert's on-the-line heroics, denying Northampton twice, could prevent the Northampton hitman from finishing.
However, against the run of play Leicester were awarded a somewhat inconspicuous penalty by referee Mike Dean when top-scorer Matty Fryatt was brought down in the penalty area. Not even the Leicester fans behind the goal had realised the penalty had been given. Despite the confusion, Steve Howard made no mistake of levelling for the visitors, converting the penalty past Chris Dunn.
Leicester's Joe Mattock was booked soon after, before Howard was involved again when his lob over Dunn had to be rescued off the line by Liam Davis.
The Foxes were beginning to take more control of the game now and followed up with several chances before the break, Jack Hobbs firstly heading narrowly wide from Matt Oakley's corner.
Fryatt then had two chances of his own, firstly firing the ball over the upright before repeating the feat again straight after.
The Cobblers had the opening chance of the second half after 52 minutes when Davis shot over following his run into a promising position. Leicester then followed up with a chance of their own when Fryatt's effort was deflected into the side netting for a corner.
Leicester should have taken the lead after 67 minutes when Fryatt capitalised on Jason Crowe's poor backpass to leave himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but the striker was foiled by Dunn. Steve Howard should have buried the rebound, but somehow fired his effort wide.
However, the Foxes' pressure paid off after 73 minutes when Lloyd Dyer slid in to score his 9th goal of the season. Steve Howard's sublime ball over the top to Tom Cleverley allowed to on-loan Manchester United midfielder to cross first time into the path of Dyer who finished past Dunn.
There were some nervy moments for Leicester in the final stages of the game, firstly when Danny Jackman sliced over from a good position in the penalty area. There were hearts in mouths when substitute Joe Benjamin found himself in space with only moments remaining, but his effort was stopped superbly by David Martin in the Leicester goal to preserve his side's victory.
The win leaves Leicester 10 points clear at the top of League One; results elsewhere in League One falling favourably for the Foxes with Millwall, Leeds, Peterborough and Olham all dropping points.
Leicester: Martin, Gilbert, Morrison, Hobbs, Mattock (Powell 86), Oakley, King, Cleverley, Dyer, Fryatt, Howard.
Subs not used: Edworthy, Hayles, Dickov, Pentley.
Northampton: Dunn, Crowe, Jackman, Hughes, Doig, Constantine (Dolman 74), Larkin (Gilligan 64), Holt, Davis (Benjamin79), Osman, Clarke.
Subs not used: Dyer, Zieler.
Att: 7,028 (1,356)