Leicester v Scunthorpe United

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Football League Championship

Leicester1 (1)Scunthorpe United0 (0)

Hendrie 41

Leicester :
Henderson, Stearman, McAuley, Kisnorbo, Mattock, Bell, Oakley, Hendrie (Laczko 89), Wesolowski (Clemence 59(N'Gotty 68)), Fryatt, Howard
Subs not used:
James Chambers, Campbell

Scunthorpe United :
Murphy, Byrne, Iriekpen, Butler, Baraclough (Hayes 66), Weston (Sparrow 66), Goodwin, McCann, Hurst (Morris 20), May, Horsfield
Subs not used:
Lillis, Hobbs



A FANTASTIC strike by Lee Hendrie just before the break gave Leicester City an extremely valuable three points against Scunthorpe United at the Walkers Stadium.

It was the perfect reaction to the disappointment of the previous weekend's setback against Hull City and took City to 19th in the table to ease the pressure.

The all-important moment of the game came in the 42nd minute when new signing David Bell, handed an unexpected starting place after his arrival on loan from Luton the day before, sent Richard Stearman racing down the right wing.

His cross was touched back by Steve Howard for Hendrie, on the left, to swerve the ball in off the far post with his right foot for the only goal of the game.

What a spectacular goal - and there was some relief mixed with the joy because, up to then, City might have thought they were set for "one of those days”.

Scunthorpe ‘keeper Joe Murphy had made two brilliant saves from headers by Howard and Matty Fryatt when he seemed to have no chance.

Indeed, the Iron ‘keeper did it again in the closing stages when City were sitting precariously on the lead and a second goal would have sealed it.

The tension was clear and City manager Ian Holloway said of those dicey closing stages: "Don't we ever make it so hard for ourselves at this football club?"

That was a terribly nervy affair but I can see signs that we are improving, and the goal that won us the game was a fantastic finish with probably the hardest chance of the whole lot."

It was great to see so many chances created, to see Joe Mattock getting the ball in the box and crosses from both sides. I am sure Steve Howard is relieved because that is what he needs. If the chances are being created, I am sure the goals will come.

Bell, whose loan to the end of the season will become a permanent move in the summer, showed no nerves on his first outing and was a constant attacking threat down the right and his crossing prowess was clear to see.

City reverted to 4-4-2 with Mattock in for Bruno N'Gotty, Bell for the suspended Barry Hayles and James Wesolowski for the injured Jamie Clapham with Hendrie on the left.

Inside the first minute, Fryatt turned a shot over, illustrating City's positive attitude, and the home side were on top even with the frustration of seeing chances made but not taken.

Bell certainly caught the eye on the right but City's top man was on the left in the form of Hendrie whose wonder strike was ample reward for his sterling performance. He admitted to fading after the break, having suffered from flu before the game, but he was still well enough to keep City on track before being replaced near the end to a deserved standing ovation.

With Murphy kept busy, at the other end Paul Henderson was hardly tested.

But, when there was pressure, he showed some safe handling and timely catches to snuff out any threat before it really materialised.

City did have an escape when handball could have been given in the area against Richard Stearman - it was accidental but we have seen them given – and, if a spot-kick had been given and scored from, the final 15 minutes would have been even more fraught than they were anyway.

City, though, held their nerve, their clean-sheet and the three points to ease the pressure even though everyone knows the job is not done yet by a long way.