Leicester 4-0 Cheltenham
07/03/09 - 3 p.m.
Leicester cruised to maintain their 12 point advantage at the top of League One after an emphatic 4-0 win over Cheltenham Town at the Walkers Stadium earlier today.
Goals from Steve Howard, Matty Fryatt, Tom Cleverley and captain Matt Oakley sealed a comfortable win for Nigel Pearson's men, leaving the ball firmly in the Foxes' court with 10 matches of the season remaining.
Pearson made two changes to the team which scrapped to a 1-1 draw with Stockport mid-week, bringing in Max Gradel for Lloyd Dyer and Tom Cleverley for Bruno Berner. Meanwhile there was a return for two former Foxes amongst the Cheltenham ranks, with Elvis Hammond and Josh Low both looking to haunt their former team.
Cheltenham had the game's first opportunity when Hammond was denied by the onrushing Stockdale.
Lively winger Max Gradel set up Matty Fryatt from the left hand side, but the striker's effort was blocked by Cheltenham defender David Bird.
However, it wasn't long before Leicester took the lead through Steve Howard on 15 minutes. On loan Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley's cross from the right was met by the head of the big forward for his 11th goal of the season.
Hammond tried to hit back for the visitors against his old club immediately after, but his shot, Cheltenham's only shot on target all game in fact, was held by Stockdale.
Leicester doubled their lead after 22 minutes when Michael Morrison's long ball was flicked on by Steve Howard for Fryatt to latch onto and finish for his 28th goal of the season.
Max Gradel tried his luck in the penalty area after beating two Cheltenham defenders, but his shot was blocked for a corner. Oakley drew a fine save from Scott Brown in the 38th minute, the 'keeper diving to his left to deny the Leicester captain.
Gradel was involved once again when his pass found Andy King just before half-time, but the midfielder's chipped effort was dealt with by Brown.
With the first half played, it was simply a case of how many for Leicester, with Cheltenham offering very little in the way of attack. A Foxes win was inevitable.
Jack Hobbs was denied by the top of the crossbar straight after half-time with his header from Tom Cleverley's corner.
Cheltenham were beginning to show a little more resilience in the opening stages of the second period, and actually fashioned a couple of chances of their own.
Paul Connor turned Elvis Hammond's shot onto the bar before the ball was gathered gratefully by Stockdale in the Leicester goal.
Tom Cleverley should have added Leicester's third after dancing his way through the Cheltenham defence, but his left foot effort was disappointingly scuffed wide of Brown's goal.
Leicester had the ball in the net after an hour when Cleverley's cross was turned into his own net by Shane Duff, but striker Steve Howard was adjudged to have been offside.
Cleverley made ammends for his earlier miss in the 67th minute when he virtually replicated the previous scenario, this time making no mistake of sliding the ball through the goalkeeper's legs to give the Foxes a 3-0 lead.
It was just three minutes before Leicester added a fourth through captain Matt Oakley. The midfielder strolled his way through Cheltenham's questionable defence, much like Cleverley, before finishing through Brown's legs.
Pearson made a double change after the goal, bringing Barry Hayles and Bruno Berner on for Steve Howard and Oakley.
Chris Powell entered the action in the 81st minute when he replaced Joe Mattock, before Max Gradel fought his way into the Cheltenham penalty area, shooting into the side netting.
It was a game in which Leicester simply outclassed Cheltenham, who are surely destined for League Two football next season. It was subsequently the fifth time this season the Foxes have scored four goals in a match, whilst also manitaining their excellent 23 match unbeaten run in the league.
Pearson will take his men to Tranmere on Wednesday night, a match which could well prove difficult for the Foxes.
Leicester: Stockdale, Gilbert, Hobbs, Morrison, Mattock (81 Powell), Oakley (c) (72 Berner), A King, Dyer, Fryatt, Howard (72 Hayles)
Subs Not Used: Pentney, Dyer
Cheltenham: Brown, Duff, Low (72 Durrant), Finnigan (40 Townsend), Spencer, Bird, Ridley, Gallinagh, Watkins (45 Connor), Westlake, Hammond
Subs Not Used: Puddy, Bignall
Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire)
Yellow Cards: City: None; Town: Gallinagh
Att: 18,939 (370 Away)