Tuesday, 9 August 2011

League Cup Conclusions from the Don Valley Stadium



Rotherham United1-4Leicester City
(HT 1-1)
Mills (OG) 13Gallagher 36
Schlupp 53, 63, 71

Don Valley Stadium, attendance: 3,717
BBC Match Report


Rotherham Team: Warrington, Marshall (42, Tonge 46), Cresswell, Raynes, Newey, Schofield, Harrison, Taylor, Pringle (Evans 66), Le Fondre, Grabban (Holroyd 46)

Leicester Team: Schmeichel, Oakley, Mills (OG 13), Ball, Konchesky (Nugent 75), Johnson (Fernandes 72), Moussa (Danns 72), Dyer, Gallagher (goal 36, 37), Waghorn, Schlupp (goals 53 63 71)



  • The eight changes nearly cost Leicester this tie. It is perfectly correct, despite the nay-sayers worrying about the integrity of the competition, for a manager with a squad as deep as Leicester's to pick fringe players for a distracting midweek trip to Rotherham. Unfortunately, the changes made were reflected in the quality of the first-half performance, particularly early-on as poor defending and poor passing allowed Rotherham the roam of the pitch during the first half.
  • What a difference a break makes. The Foxes were very much lucky to go in at half time level, but it is testament to the resolve in the squad that as the game went on, Leicester dominated more and more. Indeed, as Jeffrey Schlupp grew in confidence so the Foxes grew in creativity and aggression up front. The second half yielded a willingness to defend absent in the opening forty-five and a fluid passing that is what fans have come to expect that, combined, gave Schlupp his opportunity to shine.
  • Who needs a new striker? Perhaps the answer to our goalscoring woes has been right under Sven Goran Eriksson's pointy nose all along.



Winners
Jeffrey Schlupp
He's only eighteen, you know. For someone looking to break-though into the first team, this was a superb opportunity for Jeff Schlupp to show what he's made of against inferior opposition. It appeared, however, that the Millers' defence would be too long in the tooth for the popular young forward. But he got into the game more and more as time went on and was rightly rewarded when he scored his first and second senior goals for his parent club on what was his full debut. Then, the unbelievable happened and he bagged a first senior hat-trick. An incredible performance that belies all superlatives and surely grabs him a spot in the starting eleven in the league. If he can perform like this, Eriksson would be perfectly right to make that decision.

Kasper Schmeichel
If it was not for the young Danish keeper, the Foxes would have been well out of this tie by half time. Not at fault for the goal, he made crucial saves off Le Fondre and Cresswell to deny Rotherham a two or three-goal lead into half time. Some wondered why Eriksson decided to play Schmeichel instead of giving a run-out to Chris Weale: in Schmeichel's performance, his decision was very much vindicated.

Paul Gallagher
His flicked header was a just reward for what was to come, as he urged the Foxes forward and created an increasing amount of opportunities for himself and his team mates, notably providing the cross to give Jeff Schlupp his second. As the man who missed out most after not being picked to face Coventry, this was just the sterling performance he needed.

Matt Oakley
Playing in his newly-adopted right back position, Oakley did little wrong once the back line had sorted themselves out towards the end of the first half. He's not going to be a first teamer this year, but he has assured himself a useful place within the squad as a handy utility player, like a sort of footballing Swiss Army knife.



Losers
Matthew Mills
As the Foxes' record signing, any mistake from Mills was always going to come with its fair amount of scything criticism. That he has scored an own goal in only his second appearance is not a good sign. But football is a funny old game and he may just have put his error for this half of the season behind him. The best is certainly yet to come.

Michael Ball
Lacking match fitness and needing a run-out, Ball still has the potential to contribute this year. He needs game time, and that is exactly what handing him a shirt tonight was all about.

Martyn Waghorn
I fear this may be the last time we see Waghorn in Leicester colours. His frustration at being unable to find the net is evident every time he pulls-on the shirt and nobody can question his commitment. That frustration prevents him from fulfilling his obvious potential, however, as he gets wound-up on the pitch too readily having put too much pressure on himself. That pressure, heaped upon him by Paulo Sousa, a £3 million price tag and the fans this time last year, may have cost the Foxes a true great.

The Don Valley Stadium
Did you know it's only a temporary home for the Millers? Good job, as it is bereft of all atmosphere and the fans are seated a long, long way from the pitch. "I want to go home," wept Alan Young on Radio Leicester, "I don't like this place." You and a couple of thousand others, Alan.
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