This victory goes down as quite a scalp and has to be regarded as a real achievement, given that the Rams had been struggling so badly and especially given the relative differences in squad depth and player investment between the two clubs.
The second half was horrible – Nigel Pearson snarled that the game was ‘awful’ and his team ‘lacked quality’, while Nigel Clough rightly pointed out that it was Derby’s worst performance in terms of passing and moving at home all season. Nevertheless, for Derby, it was a superb result, not least when you consider the amount of leads and draws we have contrived to throw away this season.
Pearson’s Leicester were overwhelming favourites on paper and started strongly, but after an initial flurry of accurate passes and cute flicks failed to yield a goal, Derby started to fight back. Keogh’s opening goal was absolutely vital in settling the nerves and the second came at the perfect time.
Schlupp’s goal back was beautifully struck on the hour and while Derby’s play was frustratingly fretful thereafter, they have to be commended for their defensive commitment. Being hyper-critical, I would suggest that it would be easier on everybody’s nerves (and on the back four) if the midfielders could have held onto possession for longer late in the game – perhaps this was one time when the absence of Will Hughes from the side was felt.
All in all, I would agree with Pearson to the extent that this was an awful game to lose. If this sort of performance is the best his side can manage, given the huge financial advantage he has been permitted, something has gone drastically wrong for him somewhere.
1 min Dyer running at Freeman is an obvious early concern. Dangerous cross sent in already.
2 Lovely move by Leicester, Wellens cross and King heads over. Very good start by the visitors.
3 Ward almost releases Sammon with chipped ball into box.
4 Sammon fights for a channel ball, but outmuscled by Keane. Leicester trying to use full width of the pitch and get the wide players involved.
5 Awful pass out of defence by Bryson almost causes a problem. Derby clear, then Wellens goes right through back of Coutts. No booking.
6 First spell of controlled possession by Derby comes to nothing after Ward penalised for handball, trying to control overhit pass from Sammon.
7 Dyer almost wriggles away from Freeman and Coutts into the box, but ball is just smuggled out for a goal kick.
8 Leicester looking very smooth in possession.
10 First corner for Derby, after attempted Bryson cross deflected behind. Ward takes, too deep. Coutts retrieves it, but move comes to nothing.
12 Game settling down a bit after Leicester showed their threat in the early stages.
13 Ward switches to right wing, gets away from full back and crosses, just behind Sammon. Nearest Derby have come so far.
15 Sammon turns Morgan and is fouled. Free kick in crossing situation. Whipped in, Keogh scores, Derby 1 Leicester 0. Great free kick from Ward. Great goal. Keogh got the jump on St Ledger.
16 Dyer set away to run at Freeman, who just about stops him.
17 Ball for Sammon to chase, he’s onside, but it’s overhit and Schmeichel claims.
18 Booming Schmeichel goal kick lands in the Derby box and is headed out for a Leicester throw. Leicester win a corner. Whipped into six-yard box, but there’s a foul on Fielding.
21 Ward released on right, low cross just misses Sammon. Ward tries to retrieve a scuffed clearance but commits a foul and is booked.
22 Enormous Schmeichel kick headed out for a throw. Well-worked move puts Konchesky into the box. Last-ditch block by Buxton, corner. Looked like it had to end in a goal. Low corner diverted away by Martin on the stretch.
22 Derby win the ball by their own corner flag, but Bryson and Forsyth get in each other’s way and concede a needless corner. Drilled hard and flat, Martin heads out.
25 Hendrick gives ball away edge of box, Wellens to Nugent, stands it up to back post, Dyer’s shot is poor, back across Fielding and wide. Huge let-off.
26 Ward brought down in similar position to the free kick that brought the first goal. This time, flick header on from edge of box straight out for goal kick.
27 Speculative shot fired in from Nugent, easy save.
29 Martin good hold-up play, but in a very deep position. Derby hemmed in a bit at the moment and not doing much more than clearing their lines when in possession.
30 Schmeichel long kick, too long and through to Fielding.
31 Foul on Wood, just in the Derby half. Caught by Keogh trying to flick the ball on for Nugent. Central position. Taken short. Spell of possession ends with poor pass behind Dyer and out for a Derby throw.
33 Clough will be delighted so far, even though are Leicester having the lion’s share of the ball.
34 Nice cross in for Ward, who can’t quite reach it. Looked like a push in the back from St Ledger?
35 Coutts catches St Ledger and is booked. Went for a 50/50 and arrived late. St Ledger definitely felt that one.
36 Wood almost releases Nugent in the box, but just enough covering defenders are in attendance to snuff out the threat.
38 Miscommunication in Leicester defence and Schmeichel forced to race out of his box to volley the ball clear.
39 Derby win a throw, had the ball on the right in promising position, but Freeman not looking to overlap. Comes to nothing.
40 Attacking throw on the right, taken by Freeman. Played back to Freeman, who runs into the box and is caught – possible penalty shout.
40 Ward gets away and crosses in, stabbed goalwards by Martin, saved by Schmeichel. That was a chance.
41 Leicester corner after good tackle by Forsyth. Corner punched clear by Fielding. Drinkwater shot from outside the box, well over the bar.
42 Ward skips past St Ledger, wins a throw.
43 Great cross Forsyth, Martin goal, Derby 2 Leicester 0. No challenge on Martin, made it easy for the striker. Nice header back across Schmeichel. “Sign him up”, sing the fans. Changes coming at half-time for Leicester now, no doubt.
45+2 Half-time Derby County 2 Leicester City 0
Half-time notes – This has been a different sort of performance. We’ve not had the majority of possession and have tended to be more direct, looking to hit Martin or Sammon. Martin looks effective at holding the ball up for the team. Sammon has been an industrious nuisance to defenders, as usual. Ward’s return gives more attacking threat, even from the left, where he has had plenty of joy against the full back. Dangerous crosses he’s put in could easily have produced a couple more goals.
Leicester’s most dangerous player has been Dyer, running at an inexperienced full back. There’s always a goal in their team, with Nugent and Wood, plus options to change it from the bench (Waghorn, Vardy and Kane, a young striker on loan from Spurs).
First goal was very important and to get a second before half-time was brilliant. We have lost plenty of leads this season however and must show more resolve this time.
Half-time substitution (Leicester) – No surprises, a sub on at half-time. Schlupp for Wellens, an attacking change.
46 Another booming Schmeichel kick claimed by Fielding. His kick is back through to Schmeichel. Another huge kick headed back to Fielding… And back to Schmeichel again. Ridiculous.
49 Schlupp runs at Freeman, nearly gets away, but Freeman tackle going to ground forces a goal kick
50 Obvious Derby throw-in awarded to Leicester after officials fail to spot a very clear deflection.
50 Sammon brought down chasing a ball forward. Keane booked for it. Schmeichel catches the free kick and tries a quick kick, straight through to Fielding.
52 Schmeichel coming out and playing as sweeper-keeper, but it’s shapeless stuff from both teams. Aimless ball from Forsyth straight through to Keane.
54 Leicester bringing on the winger Marshall. Their bench is full of attacking options. Game in a lull, so Leicester trying to shake it up.
55 Buxton does well to hold off Wood and win a throw.
56 Leicester sub – Marshall for Dyer
57 Freeman throw-in goes straight out, giving Leicester an attacking throw.
57 Marshall shot, right edge of box, low, easy save Fielding.
58 Schlupp takes on Coutts to cross, wins a corner, but corner goes straight behind.
58 Martin wins aerial battle with Morgan and is harshly penalised. Could have been a great chance as he brought the ball down to release Sammon.
60 Buxton sweeps up, concedes throw-in by the corner flag. Marshall cross not cleared, Schlupp smashes in emphatic first-tme shot, goal, Derby 2 Leicester 1. Superb strike. From absolutely nothing. Well held up and laid off by Nugent.
61 Derby sub – Davies on for Ward
62 Leicester almost slice us open, lovely lay off Wood edge of box, Nugent shot straight at Fielding.
63 Free kick in Leicester half. Davies overhits, Schmeichel claims. Throw out picked off by Davies, Schmeichel out of position, shot just over. Looked in.
66 Loose pass picked off by Davies, to Sammon, can’t quit thread through ball for Davies bursting forward.
67 Chance to play through ball, Hendrick snatches at it. Bit panicky. Need to clam down. Not really getting a hold of the ball.
67 Good move, Coutts and Sammon combine, Davies cross blocked, corner. Better. Davies takes, very poor, low to near post and straight out. Not good enough.
69 Schlupp goes forward, lays in Nugent edge of box, makes room for shot, low, straight at Fielding.
69 Derby attacking throw. Bryson runs on gets a shot in, deflected wide, corner. Davies takes, aimed at Buxton, headed out, Derby throw.
69 Leicester sub – Kane for Wood
73 Martin deflected shot edge of box loops nicely for keeper. Could have gone anywhere. Came from good move on the right and Sammon lay-off.
74 Shit. Free kick Leicester edge of box, shooting chance. great opportunity. Marshall bends it over the bar. Rubbish free kick from great position.
76 Bryson still running his balls off. Injury, what injury?
77 Good closing down by Sammon forces Morgan into awful, wasteful long ball straight out for goal kick. Derby doing a lot of hard work off the ball.
79 Martin shot charged down after Leicester gave the ball away to Sammon. Bryson cross blocked and cleared. Schlupp in space, runs at Freeman and leaves him behind. Full back has to bring him down, taking ‘one for the team’. Yellow card. But still a dangerous free kick position. Freeman was caught out of position there. Stays down with cramp and forced to come off.
81 Derby sub – Gjokaj for Freeman. Well done Freeman, worked hard against two very dangerous wingers.
81 Leicester free kick headed away. Derby try to push out. But all a bit nervous and a lot of just kicking it upfield and starting again.
82 Leicester not playing well and really struggling, even now that we look uncertain. Another long ball skips out for Derby goal kick. Drinkwater handles attempted pass from Bryson to Sammon, free kick in crossing position.
83 Ref not happy about what he sees as timewasting by Bryson. Free kick too deep, Schmeichel claims. Derby didn’t send many players forward.
83 Kane shot charged down, defensive header back to Fielding.
85 Martin robs Morgan on right. Gets to byline and crosses in, but just behind Sammon, or it would have been a tap-in. Martin cross looped off a defender, Sammon tried to swivel and finish from six yards, but missed the ball.
86 Marshall shoots wastefully into the stand from 30 yards.
87 Gjokaj miskicks attempted ball down the line out for a throw. Nervy Derby.
87 Bryson and Sammon combine and win a free kick in Leicester territory. In no rush to take, but ref will add some time on. Taken short to keep possession. Derby keep ball for a spell, but Leicester win a throw near their corner flag.
88 Huge Schmeichel kick causes chaos in the box. Marshall can’t get space to shoot. Leicester throw. Konchesky shot 20 yards out charged down. Drinkwater swings at the loose ball, puts it high into the stand.
89 Marshall cross headed out by Hendrick.
90 Six minutes of added time to play.
90 Keane awful ball into box, straight to Fielding.
90+1 Keogh headed clearance, then great tackle by Gjokaj on Schlupp.
90+1 Kane finds room to shoot edge of box, but slices it wide. Schlupp retrieves ball for Fielding to take goal kick.
90+2 Bryson chipped ball into corner, Schmeichel runs out as sweeper keeper. Returns it into box, hacked clear for a throw. Derby doing nothing but sitting off and defending for their lives.
90+2 Konchesky relieves the pressure with a ridiculous 30-yard volley.
90+3 Up and under by Keane, headed out of play by nervy Derby. Bryson slices a clearance, ball back into box, but ref gives foul on Keogh by Kane.
90+4 Coutts dribbles down the line to eat up time, but runs it out of play.
90+5 One last chance for Leicester to put it in the box. Marshall cross, ref blows up for foul. St Ledger booked for complaining.
90+6 That should be it. And it is!
Full time: Derby County 2 Leicester City 1