Leicester 1-1 Ipswich Town
Sunday, 10 Jan 2010, 15:00
Leicester kept up their good form with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with in-form Ipswich Town, despite an early shock.
Manager Nigel Pearson made one change from the FA Cup victory over Swansea, with Wayne Brown coming in for Jack Hobbs, while Steve Howard kept out the returning Martyn Waghorn after some excellent recent displays.
But a stunned crowd looked on as the visitors stole into the lead after just 20 seconds. Leicester gave away possession from the kick-off, and youngster Jack Colback crossed from the left to David Norris in the six-yard box, whose shot was deflected in for an own goal by Ryan McGivern.
Leicester`s response was immediate, if not clinical, getting control of possession and taking the initiative, but lapses in concentration and sloppy play helped Ipswich restrict the home side to just half chances.
There could have been a penalty for Leicester, had the referee spotted a seemingly blatant handball in the box by Alex Bruce, after an Andy King shot, though there were few appeals from the City players.
Despite their good response, Leicester could have found themselves two goals behind, with Gareth McAuley`s bullet header from a corner being tipped over with a superb save from Chris Weale. Colback almost got on the scoresheet himself had he made contact with Grant Leadbitter`s cross soon after.
The breakthrough for Leicester came so close just before the half-hour mark; Howard`s looping header from a corner was brilliantly cleared off the line by Leadbitter, as the frustration grew amongst the players and the fans.
But not long afterwards Leicester finally got their reward. Lloyd Dyer was brought down just outside the area, but as the referee had his whistle in his mouth read to blow for a free kick, Steve Howard stole the ball from the Ipswich defender and poked the ball home with aplomb.
The second half never really got going at the same pace as the first, but Leicester still had chances to get in front. Matty Fryatt`s shot was brilliantly parried over by Lee-Barrett when it looked certain he would score. It was the home side who were pressing for the winner, with Ipswich seemingly happy to take the point.
Mid-way through the second period, Fryatt was wrestled to the ground, with the referee awarding nothing; a frustrated McGivern hacked down an Ipswich player, which resulted in a mass brawl on field. Bizarrely, the referee didn`t book anyone for either the tackles or the fracas.
In an effort to find the winner, Nigel Pearson threw on Waghorn and Paul Gallagher, but neither really had an impact in their place on the wing. Nor could the introduction of Yann Kermogant change the game after an inspired substitute performance last week in the FA Cup. Ipswich`s defence restricted Leicester to half-chances at best, frustrating the home side.
The point keeps Leicester in 5th position with 38 points, and with a game in hand over most of their rivals. Next up for Leicester is a run of four away games, starting with Swansea on Saturday.