Saturday, 10 September 2011

Conclusions from Oakwell

Barnsley1-1Leicester City
(HT 1-0)
Butterfield 38King 46

Oakwell, attendance: 10,862
BBC Match Report

Home Team: Schmeichel, Pantsil, Bamba, Mills, Konchesky (Peltier 86), Wellens, Fernandes, Gallagher (King 46), Danns (89), Vassell (89), Beckford (Dyer 89)

Away Team: Steele, Hassell, Edwards (Wiseman 59), Foster (86), McNulty, O'Brien, Done (Haynes 78), Perkins (89), Butterfield, Drinkwater, Gray

  • A poor first half. Considering the hype surrounding this fixture - the Foxes entered the international break victorious and would surely thrash an ailing Barnsley side as the Football League returns - what came in the first half was highly disappointing. Defensively Leicester were at sixes and sevens, with both centre halves looking somewhat flustered, the Tykes able to break through the back line and, after John Pantsil failed to stop the cross and the centre half partnership of Matt Mills and Sol Bamba failed to deal with it there would only ever be one conclusion.
  • Better in the second... but not much. The equaliser gave hope of a comeback and, certainly, this fixture was far more balanced in the second half than in the first. However, Barnsley still applied pressure well and worked what became a tired Leicester back line to attack Kasper Schmeichel's goal. The Foxes' keeper was undoubtedly the away side's man of the match - without him Barnsley would have bossed the second half and run away to claim three points. Leicester got lucky.
  • "You're so quiet, we'll sing on our own." The Foxes' travelling support were justified in their cynicism of Barnsley's ticketing policy, it turns-out. Oakwell was empty, with an attendance of just 10,000 for a game against a top club coming after a week's break - on a Saturday at three o'clock. That the Foxes were only allocated 2,300 tickets - with plenty of space around them in the otherwise empty stand - it is worrying that a Football League stalwart such as Barnsley are charging inflated prices for mid-season games they are unable to even remotely sell-out.

Andy King
If you want to make an impact, King went about it in exactly the right way. Just twenty-three seconds after the whistle blew to start the second half, the ball found Jermaine Beckford who crossed for King, on for Paul Gallagher at the break, the Welshman making no mistake as he tapped home from inside the six-yard box to put the Foxes level. A perfect start to King's game and to Leicester's second half.

Jermaine Beckford
Pace, power, passion... Beckford has already shown flashes of these aspects of his game and he has played only ninety minutes. Beckford was one of the few bright performers in a lacklustre first half and it was his effort along the wing that allowed King to grab a crucial equaliser that set a much better tone for the second forty-five minutes. There is certainly more to come from the £2.5 million man and Leicester fans should rightly be excited ahead of his first King Power Stadium appearance - if he isn't injured, that is.

Kasper Schmeichel
Still seeking that clean sheet, but again he kept the Foxes in contention as they survived a battering from Barnsley's forwards in the dying minutes. He is fast becoming Eriksson's best buy...

Matt Mills and Sol Bamba
It was more of the same from Leicester's back line, as Barnsley's surprisingly smart passing play helped the home side control the game and cause confusion amongst the Foxes' central defensive duo. Both were responsible for failing to clear the ball from the danger zone as the Tykes scored the opener. For Mills, it is a lack of understanding with his new team mates that is of most concern: he was dubbed during the game by one fan as "looking like a lost puppy". Meanwhile, Bamba's negativity is frustrating for a team built around a desire to build from the back. Something - although what - needs to be done to tackle the problems that are, so far this season, hampering Leicester's promotion ambitions.

John Pantsil
It is not just the centre backs that are of concern as Pantsil, too, is yet to impress in royal blue. He allowed Barnsley too much space out wide - just as he did to Southampton - that nearly caused Leicester to concede twice. The opening goal came after Pantsil stood back and allowed the cross to enter the box, with the hapless Mills and Bamba responsible for failing to clear the ball from inside the area.

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