Tranmere 2-0 Leicester
11/03/09 - 7.45 p.m.
So, the 23 match unbeaten run comes to an abrupt end. It's not like some of us weren't expecting it though (see match preview for conclusive score prediction); we've been playing fairly poorly for quite some time.
Let's take nothing away from Tranmere though, who were an extremely well organised side, playing some attractive football in the process to rightly come away with the 2-0 win.
The first half was an ultimately drab affair, with neither side really registering a shot on target. Leicester in fact, had none. Leicester actually only had one effort on goal in the first 45 minutes, a horribly skewed effort wide from Howard which gave the corner flag more trouble than the goalkeeper.
So why the distinct lack of chances for the Foxes? Tranmere were determined that we wouldn't pass the ball around, and they achieved this comfortably. Jack Hobbs' distribution from the back was fairly laughable, with 90% of 'passes' finding either a Tranmere shirt or the sidelines.
Tranmere's Bas Savage looked hungry to give Leicester's centre back pairing of Jack Hobbs and Michael Morrison a torrid time, and perhaps should have given the home side the lead with a couple of chances the striker found himself with.
Centre back Ian Goodison was winning everything against Howard, ultimately closing off Leicester's greatest outlet to Fryatt.
HALF TIME: TRANMERE 0-0 LEICESTER
Ironically Leicester hit the target within a minute of kick off. A nice passing move found Howard, whose shot was comfortably saved by Danny Coyne in the Tranmere goal. Anything's a start you'd suppose.
Or not? Tranmere decided otherwise, and went straight up the other end of the pitch for Antony Kay to fire impressively into the bottom corner following Bas Savage's timely layoff.
GOAL: TRANMERE 1-0 LEICESTER (Kay, 47)
'1-0 down, who gives a f***, we're Leicester boys and we're going up', was the defiant response from Leicester's travelling faithful, of which went on for the majority of the second half.
For about 10 minutes we were actually provided with the ludicrous hope that we might actually equalise. A succession of moves towards the Tranmere goal would only end up with a few corners, effectively nothing.
Tranmere continued to keep the visitors at bay, whilst maintaining their slick style, and generally looked dangerous going forward. Tranmere's left winger Charlie Barnett looked sharp, as the home side dominated in midfield.
Leicester's midfield of Oakley, King, Cleverley and Mattock were being overrun by Tranmere's persistent hard work, and Mattock was rightly substituted by Pearson in the 60th minute for Max Gradel. Captain Oakley had also been particularly poor, failing to (or even attempting to) take the game by the scruff of the neck when it was needed most.
As the minutes went on, still nothing. Both teams were effective in cancelling each other out, with neither goalkeeper forced into a difficult save.
Leicester's misery was compounded in the 72nd minute when Andy King, who had played in every minute (44 games) of the season, was injured and promptly substituted for Barry Hayles. The substitute's impact was midly felt as he looked to be about the only Leicester player willing to run around.
Referee Mr.Foster awarded Tranmere a penalty in the 83rd minute when Bas Savage was alleged to have been brought down by Chris Powell inside the penalty area. Jennings stepped up to place home the penalty to leave Leicester's unbeaten run in tatters.
GOAL: TRANMERE 2-0 LEICESTER (JENNINGS, 83)
Tranmere could have actually had a third had it not been for a fine save from on loan goalkeeper David Stockdale, the keeper diving acrobatically to his left to tip the ball to safety. Stockdale appeared to injure himself during the save, adding insult to injury for Pearson.
Leicester travel to Millwall on Saturday, knowing a win would prove to be the tonic they need to quickly get over this defeat. Can we really mess this up? With 9 games left, it's firmly in our own hands. A defeat on Saturday is unthinkable.
FULL TIME: TRANMERE 2-0 LEICESTER