Leicester beat Cardiff 1-0 and see glimpses of normality beginning to return


Match preview

Cardiff fans show class and unity on difficult day for all

The match was preceded by a minute’s silence held for Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the other four victims of the helicopter crash of last Saturday. All the traveling fans were given white t-shirts by the club thanking the deceased owner, the players themselves wore the same t-shirts during the warm up.

If the occasion was hard but for the players who had declared they wanted to play, the kick off must have represented if not a relief but perhaps a watershed. Their determination to play for their owner was illustrated half way into a quiet first half.

Harry Maguire succumbed to a 23rd minute injury, with the risk of possibly missing his first minutes since signing for the club.

Jonny Evans was about to take his place until Maguire asked for more time to run it off. The England international lost this battle and the Northern Ireland defender received his opportunity. It was a bad end for a tragic week for the England hero however and the pain showed in his face as he left the pitch.

Seconds later Leicester’s Demarai Gray went down with an injury. Cardiff  played on, much to the irritation of visitors. The argument seemed mild given the usual moral outrage that accompanies these incidents.

While Gray was being treated, the Leicester fans burst into the English national anthem God Save the Queen (as many fans do when their side plays Cardiff or Swansea) and the Cardiff fans booed back, perhaps the first glimpse of normality returning. Both the singing and the booing were, in truth also a little half-hearted.

For Cardiff, Victor Camarasa hit the bar with the curled free kick, a bit of fortune no-one would wish to deny Leicester as was the ability of Gray to continue after treatment. That was as close as Cardiff came and it seemed to flick a switch for Leicester.

Wilfred Indidi out-jumped the giant Bruno Manga at the Cardiff end but headed wide, in Leicester’s first significant threat nine minutes before the interval.

Shortly after, the Bluebirds’ Irish international Harry Arter  deflected a Nampalys Mendy shot outside the post as the Foxes began to create better openings. Sol Bamba made a fantastic challenge to dispossess Indidi in the penalty area in first half stoppage time.

In outplaying a side well below them in the league, Leicester were perhaps finding their first minutes of normality in a traumatic week.

There was till time for the game’s biggest controversy to come. Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge spilled a Ricardo Pereira effort outwards and Jaime Vardy’s follow up shot was clearly handled onto the bar by Bamba. It ought to have resulted in the award of a clear penalty and perhaps even a red card, and referee Lee Probert missed it.

However replays subsequently showed that Vardy has received the ball in an offside position so accidentally, justice was done.

Nine minutes after the break, Leicester got the goal their play deserved.

Ben Chilwell started the move and supplied the cross that Gray slotted home comfortably.

The celebrations were an outpouring of many emotions. Some including the goalscorer looked to the heavens. Probert felt compelled to book Gray for removing his jersey, a card that will surely be reversed by wiser heads if such leeway exists in such matters. Neil Warnock’s sadder head might not want to watch Joe Bennett’s marking of the goalscorer.

Etheridge denied Vardy three minutes from time after Indidi pounced on a Junior Hoilett giveaway but in truth the Foxes protected the mere one goal lead with an ease that will trouble Warnock on a day where Newcastle found their first win to leapfrog Cardiff at the bottom end of the table.

For most others though, the game will be remembered for something that happened a week earlier in another place. And rightly so.


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