Leicester 1-0 Leeds
13/04/09 - 12:15 p.m.
Championship, we are back! Well, technically not yet as of this moment, but a maximum of two points is all that's required to re-join English football's second tier after suffering relegation on the last day at Stoke last year.
Big Steve Howard's 15th goal of the season came at the appropriate time of the 92nd minute to send Leicester's biggest crowd of the season wild. The celebrations at the end from both fans and players said it all - this one meant a lot. Just shy of a year after the club's worst day in its history, and we're back at the first attempt.
Manager Nigel Pearson made one change to the side that overcame Hereford on Saturday, bringing in Max Gradel to replace Bruno Berner.
It was Leicester who came out of the traps quickest as they put the visitors under pressure early on. The first chance of the game was presented to Lloyd Dyer, whose powerful effort was well dealt with by Casper Ankergren.
Gradel followed up with a chance of hs own from 30 yards, but his left foot strike was tipped round the post by Ankergren once again.
Leeds were struggling to sustain any great period of pressure in the opening 15 minutes, but forced a shot into the side netting through Becchio.
It was Leicester who came close to breaking the deadlock when Andy King found space in the box to head straight at Ankergren following Steve Howard's flick on.
Winger Lloyd Dyer was proving to be a real threat to the Leeds backline, showing the great confidence he displayed in the early stages of the season to burst past three players before being foiled by Ankergren.
A tussle between Wayne Brown and Becchio resulted in the Argentinian receiving a booking for lashing out at the Leicester centre back. However, the card count was equalled as Brown was shown the yellow for manhandling the striker minutes later.
Leicester continued to pressurise the Leeds defence, and were particularly successful through Dyer on Leeds full back Douglas. A series of corners followed for the Foxes, but deliveries were proving the problem as Ankergren was rarely tested.
Leeds on the other hand were looking far more dangerous from set-pieces, and almost went ahead when Leicester goalkeeper David Stockdale punched onto his own crossbar.
HALF-TIME: LEICESTER 0-0 LEEDS
It was another corner from which Leeds came close to scoring from once again, this time Stockdale reaching low to deny Liam Dickinson from heading home.
Neat work from Matty Fryatt and then Steve Howard allowed Andy King the chance to strike on goal, but once again Ankergren was equal to the effort to push away for another Leicester corner.
Dyer was in the thick of the action again as he raced through the Leeds defence to slip the ball through for Fryatt, who couldnt' guide his low effort on target.
Leicester were dealt a major scare later on in the half when Fabian Delph found himself through on goal, only to fire straight at Stockdale. It was the first time in the match the Delph had threatened, much to the credit of Leicester's right side of Michael Morrison and Max Gradel.
Howard came close to scoring the opener soon after, but his header from Dyer's cross was clutched gratefully by Ankergren.
And it was Leicester on the attack once again straight after when fine work from Andy King gave Fryatt the chance to shoot on target. However, the eventual left foot shot was weak and failed to trouble the Leeds goalkeeper.
Leeds substitute Andy Robinson followed up with a stinging shot from the edge of the area which was tipped over well by Stockdale.
The fourth official signalled two minutes of added time as Leicester pushed for the goal that would all but seal their return to the Championship.
And the gods were smiling down on the Walkers as the game fell into the last minute of injury time. A late corner for the Foxes following some persistent Paul Dickov hassling was delivered inch perfect onto the head of the onrushing Steve Howard by Gradel for the striker to nod home and send Leicester's home support hysterical.
GOAL: LEICESTER 1-0 LEEDS (HOWARD, 90+2)
FULL TIME: LEICESTER 1-0 LEEDS
And so, we can almost say we're there. And with Millwall's win at home to Peterborough, we can almost say that the title's wrapped up too. A win at Southend on Saturday would confirm both promotion and the League One title, and then the celebrations can really begin.
Leicester: Stockdale, Morrison, Brown, Hobbs, Mattock (Berner 88), Dyer, Andy King, Oakley, Gradel, Howard, Fryatt (Dickov 76).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Ajdarevic, Kisnorbo.
Leeds: Ankergren, Parker, Naylor, Sodje, Douglas, Delph, Howson, Kilkenny (Hughes 78), Snodgrass, Dickinson (Grella 83), Becchio (Robinson 64).
Subs Not Used: Lucas, Michalik.
Yellow Cards: Leicester: Brown, Morrison, Oakley, Gradel, Howard; Leeds: Beccio, Sodje