Leicester 1-1 Colchester
21/03/09 - 3 p.m.
Battling Colchester came away from the Walkers Stadium with a well earned point as Paul Dickov's 67th minute goal salvaged a draw for Leicester in reply to Mark Yeates' inch perfect first half free-kick.
Let's start by saying this; it wasn't pretty. The first half mainly consisted of a substantial amount of route one football, with Leicester the guiltier of the two teams. Hats off to Paul Lambert who was tactically spot on today, sending his team out with the clear intentions of stopping the Foxes from playing the game their way.
Colchester didn't just come to settle for the draw. In truth, both teams could have won the game had it not been for a combination of some impressive goalkeeping and questionable finishing from both sides.
Barry Hayles was given his first start of the season by Pearson to replace the suspended Steve Howard, along with Max Gradel who replaced Lloyd Dyer in the starting lineup.
A cagey opening to the game saw neither side create any chance worth discussing. Referee Keith Stroud was doing himself no favours to get himself into the home crowd's good books as he awarded Colchester several bizarre free-kicks to incense the Walkers faithful.
It was one of these soft free-kicks which lead to Mark Yeates' brilliant opener on 23 minutes. It was one of those where you kind of had the feeling he was going to score, what with him being a former Leicester player and all that. Sure enough he stepped up to the mark 20 yards out to leave Warner helpless and give the U's the lead.
GOAL: LEICESTER 0-1 COLCHESTER (YEATES, 23)
There was very little in the way of a reply from Leicester despite the best efforts of winger Max Gradel who looked up for the cause both in attack and defence. However, a good final ball was distinctly lacking from the Foxes as Cousins was often left as a mere spectator.
Pearson was dealt a further blow on 34 minutes when Tom Cleverley was forced off with a dislocated shoulder, replaced by Lloyd Dyer.
Dyer to be fair, after a very questionable five months, looked hungry to prove himself today and got himself involved in the thick of the action from the off.
The half-time whistle blew, and the Kop booed. Football fans fickle? Never.
HALF TIME: LEICESTER 0-1 COLCHESTER
After 15 minutes of a probable rollocking from Pearson, Leicester came out a better side and were handed the chance to equalise through Fryatt soon after the restart. Neat work from Hayles and Dyer presented the chance for Leicester's top-goalscorer, but the eventual effort was blazed disappointingly wide.
Colchester were not settling for their one goal advantage and continued to push the home side. Kerrea Gilbert's timely tackle on Karl Hawley prevented the on-loan striker from doing any further damage after beating the offside trap. Hawley was involved once again soon after, and really should have scored when he headed wide from Yeates' parried free-kick.
In true peculiar Rafa Benitez style, Pearson decided to bring on Paul Dickov for Gradel in the 66th minute, arguably Leicester's best player up to that point.
Oh how I was made to eat my words. Two touches in less than one minute later and Leicester were level, courtesy of who else but Dickov? Michael Morrison's downwards header was pounced upon by the Scot who finished into the gaping net.
GOAL: LEICESTER 1-1 COLCHESTER (DICKOV, 67)
The goal was perhaps a little unfair on the visitors who had played well and probably still deserved to be leading. However, it didn't put them off going forward, and they were nearly level once again soon after Dickov's strike.
U's striker Clive Platt found himself with two golden opportunities minutes later, heading the first on target to force Warner into a fine save, and the second agonisingly wide when he really should have done better.
Fryatt latched onto a hopeful ball forward to find himself one on one with the goalkeeper from a tight angle, but again blazed over, uncharacteristic of the normally cool forward.
Lloyd Dyer could and possibly should have won the game for the Foxes in the final five minutes when he raced through on goal only to be superbly denied by Cousins.
FULL TIME: LEICESTER 1-1 COLCHESTER
Both sides had chances to win the game, but ultimately it was the draw that was meant to be in this one. Credit to Colchester who gave Leicester a rough ride and weren't afraid to go forward. Players such as Mark Yeates are certainly good enough for a higher level, and I'd like to think he'd be on Pearson's summer radar.
Leicester travel to Peterborough next weekend in their possible promotion deciding tie. Victory would see the team all but there, defeat would leave us with that all too familiar feeling Leicester City have instilled in us over the last few years.
Leicester: Warner, Gilbert, Morrison, Hobbs, Mattock, Oakley (c), Cleverley (Dyer 34), King, Gradel (Dickov 66), Fryatt, Hayles
Substitutes: Berner, Kisnorbo, Stockdale
Colchester: Cousins, Hammond (c), Platt, Izzet, Yeates (Wordsworth 90), Baldwin, Perkins (Jackson 74), Maybury, Trotman, Hawley, Tierney
Substitutes: Gerken, Coyne, Wasiu
Yellow Cards: Leicester: Hayles; Colchester: Platt
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire)
Att: 20,218 (490 Away)