Weale the hero as City steal three points
Tuesday 29th September, 8pm
Leicester City finally got a league away win under their belts with a dogged performance at the Riverside Stadium. It was a turgid first half display from both teams followed by a Boro onslaught in the second, but City held firm under pressure and scored late on through Lloyd Dyer to grab all three points.
City boss Nigel Pearson made wholesale changes to his side, with Aleksander Tunchev missing out through injury, Richie Wellens unavailable due to tonsilitis and Robbie Neilson, Steve Howard and Dany N'Guessan dropping to the bench. In came Michael Morrison, Jack Hobbs, Andy King, Lloyd Dyer and Frenchman Yann Kermorgant, making his first start for the club. The home side fielded undoubted Premiership pedigree with the likes of Adam Johnson, Gary O'Neil and Julio Arca in midfield but the opening exchanges were even with Boro only threatening on the counter-attack. Johnson was swapping flanks cleverly and proving a thorn in the side of full-backs Morrison and Berner, the latter dangling a foot out to halt the tricky winger just inches from the penalty box after a dazzling run. Arca sent the resulting free kick just over the bar from a good position. City's front two of Kermorgant and Fryatt were struggling to get into the game despite their best efforts, and the visitors had only Dyer and Matt Oakley's blocked shots to show for their endeavours as the half drew to a close, Boro booed off by the home support.
The second half began with Gareth Southgate's men firmly in the driving seat, Joe Bennett and Marvin Emnes both shooting wide from distance. There followed a double substitution from both managers as City swapped their strikeforce for North-East born and bred Steve Howard and Martyn Waghorn, while Arca and the ineffectual Emnes were replaced by two players with City connections. Leroy Lita rejected a move to the Walkers Stadium in the summer and was booed by the travelling fans, while Mark Yeates played briefly on loan from Tottenham under Rob Kelly. Boro were much more lively following the introduction of Lita and Yeates and started to pile the pressure on as City found it increasingly difficult to pose any attacking threat whatsoever. Nicky Adams replaced Paul Gallagher on the right wing for the visitors and Oakley was booked for a cynical tackle on the advancing Jeremie Aliadiere.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, City started to push forward at last. A long ball up to Steve Howard provoked a foul by Boro captain David Wheater and Oakley's fiercely-struck free kick could only be parried by Brad Jones, with Jack Hobbs heading the rebound against the post. A minute later, City snatched the winner. Howard won the ball in the air and Waghorn battled well to keep possession for Oakley to feed Dyer. Jones in the Boro goal could only watch as a deflection took Dyer's shot beyond him and into the net in front of the 700-strong Blue Army.
Boro again streamed upfield in search of an equaliser, with the best chance falling to substitute Yeates. Chris Weale's save to fingertip the ball to safety was one of the best saves of the season and effectively denied the home side a point. City stood resolute with the back four of Morrison, Hobbs, Brown and Berner superb. Wheater's late shot crept just wide and the three points travelled safely back to the East Midlands, City finally winning on the road in the Championship.