Scunthorpe United v Leicester City

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Football League Championship

Scunthorpe United0(0)Leicester City3(1)

Miguel Vitor 31, 72, Naughton 76

Scunthorpe United :
Lillis, Gordon (Nolan 46), Raynes, Nelson, A.Wright, Hughes (Collins 71), J.Wright, Duffy, Dagnall (Ibrahim 79), Miller, Garner.
Subs not used:
Slocombe, Reid, Grant, Godden.

Leicester City :
Ricardo, Miguel Vitor, Naughton, Bamba, Mee, King, Wellens, Abe, Gallagher (Oakley 81), Yakubu (Waghorn 75), Vassell (Dyer 86).
Subs not used:
Weale, Berner, Parkes, Moreno.


by Leicester Mercury at Glanford Park

Sven-Goran Eriksson demanded a response from his side after their disappointing defeat to Norwich last Tuesday, and he certainly got one as Leicester City returned to winning ways to keep alive their promotion dream.

At a frank and open team meeting last week, Eriksson demanded his side show more aggression, resilience and spirit, and his players certainly responded.

But, although his players deserve credit for the way they bounced back after four games without a win, Eriksson should take much of the praise for three key decisions that paved the way to victory.

His decision to bring back Paul Gallagher may not have shocked many, but it was absolutely the right choice.

On a pitch on which flowing football was a virtual impossibility, set-pieces were always going to be an important factor, and Gallagher's delivery is among the best in the Championship. And so it proved as he had a key part in all three of City's goals.

With Gallagher's inclusion came a return to the 4-3-3 formation that served City so well during the eight-game unbeaten run that fired them into play-off contention in January and February.

But finally, and more surprisingly, Eriksson dropped Bruno Berner, moved Ben Mee to left-back and gave Miguel Vitor his first appearance since he was carried off with a serious hamstring injury at Ipswich Town just before Christmas. It was a master-stroke.

The Glanford Park pitch was certainly more playable than that snow-bound pitch at Portman Road, but only just, and the Portuguese defender enjoyed a more fruitful afternoon than that disappointment.

The Benfica defender scored two excellent goals and produced a steadfast defensive display that helped City to a welcome, and rare, clean-sheet.

On a pitch which looked more suited to growing potatoes than playing football, City knew they had to embrace the ugly side of football to get a result. They did try to pass the ball around at times, but it was almost impossible to do so and it was no surprise that all the chances that fell to both sides came from direct balls into the box.

After just three minutes, Gallagher swung a ball into the near post and Darius Vassell got a glancing touch on it, but it just drifted past the far post.

Richie Wellens had to clear the ball off his own line after Michael Raynes's header from a corner beat Ricardo, and three minutes later Yakubu should have scored from close range after the Iron defence had failed to deal with a Kyle Naughton cross, but his header was too close to keeper Josh Lillis.

Yuki Abe went close to his first goal for City with a rasping drive that cannoned off the crossbar as Leicester piled on the pressure. A minute later they broke the deadlock when Mee flicked on another Gallagher corner and Vitor stabbed home his second goal for the club at the back post.

After being accused of lacking fighting qualities by Eriksson after the Canaries defeat, City demonstrated they were ready for some rough stuff when a mini melee ensued after Mee was late in a challenge on Michael Nelson.

The unlikely figure of Gallagher was in the midst of the spat that followed.

Mee went close to a second with another header which Lillis had to push away from beneath his own bar, while a poor first touch from Yakubu saved the Iron after City had carved open the visitors with a quick break.

The hosts offered little in the first half but always carried a threat at set-pieces and the City defence threw their bodies at Nelson's shot to protect their slender lead.

They were given two further let-offs as first Joe Garner went down under Kyle Naughton's challenge - and it was not the last time the pair clashed - and referee Rob Shoebridge pointed to the spot, only to then glance up at his assistant who rescued City by flagging for offside.

Then Scunthorpe looked as if they had equalised from a scrambled corner, only for Shoebridge to correctly spot that Garner had got the final touch with his hand, and he booked the Iron midfielder.

Garner reacted to a challenge from Naughton and the City full-back was harshly booked.

Gallagher, who had gone close with a trademark free-kick before King was inches away from connecting with a Vassell low cross to add a second, produced an exquisite cross in the 72nd minute for Vitor to meet with a thumping header to give City some breathing space.

Then, Gallagher's quickly-taken free-kick four minutes later found Naughton unmarked on the edge of the box and he slammed home his fifth goal of the season. It was a deserved victory which gives City renewed hope of being involved in the play-off picture.