Date:Saturday November 7 2009
07/10/09 - 3 p.m.
Two goals in three first-half minutes sent Leicester City crashing back down to earth and condemned them to their first defeat in six outings, whilst promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion opened up a four-point cushion over third place.
Graham Dorrans opened the scoring against the run of play in the 37th minute, as his mis-hit free kick squirmed through a packed goalmouth and into the far corner before Gonzalo Jara was given the freedom of the park to lash home his first goal in English football from thirty yards.
Bruno Berner pulled one back for the hosts in the dying seconds, but the Baggies survived a smattering of late pressure to seal their first away victory in four attempts.
Nigel Pearson fielded an unchanged side from the one that swept aside fellow promotion chasers Queens Park Rangers last time out, with Lloyd Dyer replacing DJ Campbell on the bench.
Meanwhile, Joe Mattock returned to his former stomping ground for the first time since his sour departure in summer and received a frosty reception from the home fans, whilst Chris Brunt returned at the expense of Felipe Texeiera.
The visitors started brightly and Luke Moore`s cross-cum-shot evaded strike partner Simon Cox after winger Jerome Thomas had released him on the left in the eighth minute.
The hosts` response came through Matt Oakley, but the captain fired wide after Mattock could only head Richie Wellens' cross into the makeshift wide-man`s path.
Albion continued to look menacing on the break and Moore threatened again after Dutch defender Gianni Zuiverloon showed great composure to chest the ball down and cut it back, but the onrushing striker saw his low drive well saved by Chris Weale.
Martyn Waghorn was then bravely denied by Scott Carson after he skipped past the challenge of Zuiverloon to burst clean through on goal, but the former England keeper was quick off his line to smoother at the on-loan Sunderland youngster`s feet.
Waghorn was then foiled once again by Carson moments later, when he spun and unleashed a vicious low drive from 12 yards to force a smart stop from the Albion captain.
The Foxes were now on top and came close again through Fryatt, who headed wide Oakley`s centre before the latter was booked for hauling down Thomas after the winger`s mazy run on the edge of the box.
The skipper then paid the ultimate price as Albion took the lead against the run of play from the resulting free kick, Scottish playmaker Dorrans breaking the deadlock by trickling a teasing drive into the far corner.
Oakley was then subsequently replaced by Paul Gallagher after flaring up a recurring groin strain in the tackle and City were hit with another sucker punch just a minute later.
Chilean midfielder Jara opened his account for the Baggies after his £1.4million summer switch from South American outfit Colo-Colo with a thumping long-range effort to completely stun the home side and their misery was further compounded before the break when Andy King was withdrawn with a suspected broken arm.
City then caught the hosts napping immediately after the break, but substitute Gallagher contrived to miss from close range with the goal at his mercy after great work on the right from Fryatt.
Moore warmed the fingertips of Weale again seven minutes after the restart before Berner, now being employed in the centre of the park, failed to control a difficult half-volley with his weaker foot from the edge of the box after Waghorn`s nod down.
Di Matteo`s side then should have put the game beyond doubt and would of was it not for the magnificent Weale, who first parried Chris Brunt`s downward header at the back stick, before beating away Thomas` rasping drive.
Pearson then sent on Steve Howard as his side prepared to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at the visitors and firstly Waghorn and then Fryatt were denied by superb last-ditch tackles from Jonas Olsson and Abdoulaye Meite respectively.
City were almost caught on the break in the 79th minute after more schoolboy defending from Wayne Brown and Ryan McGivern, as the pair allowed the ball to bounce through to Moore, again the tormentor, but he saw his deft chip loop onto the crossbar.
City finally breached the visitors` resistance through Berner after Carson had palmed Gallagher`s dipping free-kick onto the post, but it ultimately proved too little, too late as West Brom proved Nigel Pearson`s men still have someway to go before they can be considered as genuine promotion contenders.
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Date:Saturday November 7 2009
|11. West Ham||37||12||11||14||-1||47|
|12. Crystal Palace||37||12||9||16||-5||45|
|14. Leicester City||37||10||8||19||-13||38|
|16. Aston Villa||37||10||8||19||-25||38|
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