Hereford 1-3 Leicester
11/04/09 - 3 p.m.
So, the wheels of the promotion wagon are now in full flow after this, and the holy grail is in full sight. It's the three points we've all been waiting for after taking just 5 points from the previous 5 games, and after yesterday's results, places us clear at the top by four points once again.
It was plain to see today from everyone involved; we really needed it. The relief was felt from the celebrations of City's travelling 1,900 support in Edgar Street, along with the feeling that we're almost there.
Anyway, to the match. With injury to on-loan Arsenal full back Kerrea Gilbert, centre back Michael Morrison was callled to fill the void. David Stockdale and Wayne Brown replaced Tony Warner and Patrick Kisnorbo respectively, as manager Nigel Pearson rung the changes in defence. Bruno Berner was also recalled to the side at the expense of Max Gradel, with Matt Oakley taking position wide right.
The game began in a rather cagey fashion, with Leicester looking the more likely of the two teams to score. Lloyd Dyer found himself with an opportunity within the opening 15 minutes after finding space to shoot, but his effort was brilliantly tipped over by Gulacsi in the Hereford goal.
Despite this, Hereford took the lead in the 29th minute courtesy of Steve Guinan's penalty. Winger Jennison Myrie-Williams stormed into the box before being foolishly taken down by Joe Mattock, a stonewall penalty if there ever was one. Guinan stepped up to fire expertly past Stockdale into the top corner for his 13th goal of the season to hand the Bulls the lead.
GOAL: HEREFORD 1-0 LEICESTER (GUINAN, 29)
It didn't take long before the Foxes were back on level terms. Matt Oakley's dangerous free-kick into the Hereford penalty area from an acute angle beat everybody, including goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, to hand Leicester the equaliser.
GOAL: HEREFORD 1-1 LEICESTER (OAKLEY, 34)
Hereford had clearly been rattled by the goal, and offered little in the way of a response to push for a second before half-time. Leicester, although slightly more positive, likewise failed to trouble their opponents as the two sides went in level at the break.
HALF-TIME: HEREFORD 1-1 LEICESTER
The second period begain in much the same way as the first, with Leicester holding most of the possession but being unable to achieve anything substantial with it. To Hereford's credit they were making life difficult for the Foxes in attack as the defence stood firm.
Both sides pushed for a second, and both came close. Andy King's disappointing half-volley was dragged wide, before Dyer fired over from the edge of the area.
Pearson made his first change of the game after 62 minutes when lively winger Max Gradel replaced Bruno Berner.
Hereford, and no doubt most of the fans inside the ground, thought their side had taken the lead in the 63rd minute when Guinan's acrobatic overhead kick dropped agonisingly over Stockdale's goal. It was a horribly close call that finally kicked Leicester into action.
Leicester had a firm penalty shout waved away in the 72nd minute when Andy King fell under a clumsy challenge from Bulls defender Richard Jackson. Instead of what looked like a certain penalty, the referee booked King, much to the bemusement of Leicester's travelling faithful.
Three minutes later and Leicester finally had their goal. It was one of those emotion-wrenching, slo-motion moments you hate as a football fan. Persistantce from Dyer forced Gulacsi to punch the ball out as far as Steve Howard. The big striker attempts a deft chip over the goalkeeper, which is headed onto the crossbar by a covering defender. The ball bounces back off of the bar, and Dyer reacts quickest to fire it home and send management, players and fans jubilant.
GOAL: HEREFORD 1-2 LEICESTER (DYER, 74)
Dyer responds by tearing off his shirt (don't worry F.A., he was booked for it) as the Leicester fans go wild to his right. They know just how important this goal could be in the weeks to come.
Leicester's day was capped off in style with the third goal with five minutes remaining. Substitute Gradel controlled the ball before making a mockery of Hereford left back Kris Taylor, finally poking the ball across for Howard to finish into a gaping net.
GOAL: HEREFORD 1-3 LEICESTER (HOWARD, 86)
FULL TIME: HEREFORD 1-3 LEICESTER
The win sends Leicester four points clear at the top of League One, and all but condemns Hereford to relegation to League Two.
It was a hard-fought, incredibly vital three points, that more importantly leaves Leicester 10 points clear of 3rd placed Millwall with four games remaining.
Monday sees the clash between Peterborough and Millwall, whilst Leeds travel to the Walkers Stadium in their bid to secure a playoff position. MK Dons, also firmly in the promotion driving seat, face Bristol Rovers at Stadium: MK, another result Pearson and co. will be firmly keeping an eye out for.
Leicester: Stockdale, Morrison, Brown, Hobbs, Mattock, Oakley (c), King, Berner (Gradel 62), Dyer (Ajdarevic 90), Howard, Fryatt (Dickov 84).
Subs not used: Warner, Kisnorbo.
Yellow: King, Dyer
Hereford: Gulacsi, Rose, Diagouraga, Taylor, Brandy (Johnson 78), Smith, Guinan, Pugh (Done 74), Broadhurst (c), Jackson, Myrie-Williams.
Subs not used: Gwynne, O'Leary, Veiga.
Att: 4,389 (1,924 away)