Thursday, 23 February 2012

Conclusions from Thursday night at Pride Park

Derby County0-1Leicester City
(HT 0-1)

Danns 16

Pride Park, attendance: 28,205
BBC Match Report

Home Team: Fielding, Green, Shackell, Barker, Roberts, Bryson (Robinson 82), Hendrick, Carroll, Ward , Ball (Davies 76), Tyson

Away Team: Schmeichel, Peltier (Bamba 72), St Ledger, Morgan , Konchesky, Marshall (Drinkwater 79), Wellens, Danns , Dyer, Beckford (Delfouneso 72), Nugent

  • Football is certainly a game of two halves. Leicester were far and away the better team throughout the first half and should have gone in at the break with more than just one goal to their credit. It is commendable that Derby had the rub of the green in the second half but even more so that the Foxes hung-on to their lead and secured a valuable clean sheet.
  • A professional win. This was not Leicester's most emphatic win but it could be their most important. Not because of the three points and nails-clinging-to-a-cliff chance of still reaching the play-offs, but because this signals a turning point for Nigel Pearson's Leicester City. Some consistency, two away wins on the bounce, a swagger within the team... these are all good things.
  • The beating-rivals-on-telly run continues. Many moons ago, being live on the TV meant only one thing for Leicester City fans: embarrassment. The Foxes never won on telly. Now, City are an unbeatable force, hyped and fired-up by the promise of Sky's cameras. It's a wonderful feeling.

Neil Danns
This could be the making of Neil Danns. A colossal performance demonstrating passion, desire and - above all - confidence, Danns bossed the midfield and made each and every ball his own. His keenness to get into scoring positions and, crucially, his wanting to shoot at every opportunity led to his being in the right place to net Leicester's opener. Lloyd Dyer will take the plaudits for his assist but it required an awful lot of Danns to control his shooting to keep the ball low and deny Frank Fielding a chance of stopping it.

Lloyd Dyer
Dyer - complete with new-found fuzz - used his best attribute to damaging effect in the run-up to City's first goal. Picking up the ball in his own half, Dyer made up fifty yards and beat a man to give himself just enough space to cross deeply, spotting Danns' far post run and to land the ball sweetly on the midfielder's instep. Dyer did wonderfully at the death to open a narrow shooting chance for himself, only to hit the post and see his rebound ricochet off the crossbar.

Wes Morgan
This was as solid a-league d├ębut as you are ever likely to see. He was solid at the back and able to spread the play well and contributed as much as any other Foxes player to the result. Crucially, he demonstrated nerve and experience in picking-up his yellow card, taking a small hit for the team to deny Derby a near-certain goal.

Nathan Delfouneso
The loanee would have netted his first goal in royal blue since the start of his one-month stint, only to be wrongly adjudged as offside. Nathan Delfouneso's finish was lovely and he will be disappointed that it will not stand.

David Nugent and Jermaine Beckford
Aside from a saved - somehow - header and a lovely piece of lone skill that resulted in a corner, neither of Leicester's preferred front men had their best games. With the Foxes' midfield dominating the first half and Derby the second, there was little opportunity for either David Nugent or Jermaine Beckford to make their mark on a game that badly needed one of them to grab a second goal for City and settle the nerves.

Matt Mills
With rumours abounding that Matt Mills is on his way out of the club - he was not selected for either the starting eleven or amongst the substitutes - it is clear he will not find it easy to make his way back into the team. Morgan and Sean St Ledger were solid as the proverbial rock at the heart of the City defence, with only a returning Sol Bamba looking frail after his late appearance from the bench. Whether Mills will make a return a la St Ledger remains to be seen but what is clear tonight is that the Irishman has the edge over his Leicester-born counterpart.

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