Leicester City 2 - West Bromwich Albion 1

Date: Saturday 20th April 2024 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
(4-3-3) Hermansen, Choudhury, Coady, Vestergaard, Faes, Ndidi, Winks, Dewsbury-Hall (Praet, 82), Fatawu, Vardy (Daka, 85), Mavididi (Justin, 89)
Unused subs: Stolarczyk, Doyle, Ricardo Pereira, Cannon, Akgün, McAteer
(4-3-3) Palmer 6.1, Furlong 5.2, Bartley 4.4, Kipré 6.9, Townsend 6.0, M'Vila 5.1 (Chalobah, 70 4.2), Yokuslu 5.0 (Phillips, 69 4.7), Mowatt 5.8 (Swift, 70 5.1), Diangana 6.2, Wallace 6.9 (Maja, 82 4.4), Johnston 6.9 (Fellows, 77 5.8)
Unused subs: Griffiths, Ajayi, Weimann, Reach
Manager: Carlos Corberán  5.8
Scorers: Ndidi (22), Vardy (65); Wallace (76)
Referee: Thomas Bramall 2.4
Attendance: 31,874   Home Fans 5.3   Away Fans 7.6
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 9

Brendan Clegg:

Mixed emotions from that. We played really well, genuinely might have scored 5 or 6 goals and had to deal with a referee who at best was utterly incompetent, but chucked a result away through really poor defending. Leicester didn’t have to work hard for their goals and they also missed other chances. So in the end, proud of how we played but concerned about our goals against average over the last 5 games.

CC made quite a big call in playing an extra screening midfielder in M’Vila. I’d have started Ajayi over Bartley and would’ve just gone with Fellows instead of M’Vila. You can’t say how the game would’ve gone had we done that, and given how well we played CC can well feel that he was tactically cleverer than the opponent and won that battle, but we lost.

To summarise the first half very briefly- we were brilliant on the ball and through the lines, Wallace made loads of space, MJ terrified them and we should’ve scored 3 or 4 but for goal line clearances, saves and just slightly wild finishing. M’Vila and Mowatt passed it really well and Okay often dropped in as a right CB.

From nothing we conceded a cheap goal having missed a hatful of opportunities. Grady didn’t close a cross well enough but a lofted hopeful ball found Vardy alone on the edge of the 6 yard box who nodded it down. Palmer made a decent save but it was bundled in. I was fuming at Bartley, who totally lost his man and allowed the ball to sail over his head for it.

For the rest of the half it was a bit more even as M’Vila picked up a booking and so couldn’t be as aggressive in our press, and there was plenty of time for CC to think about HT tweaks. Again I’d have got Ajayi on, and I’d also have taken M’Vila off the red card tight-rope for Fellows and had a right go at them.

But we came out as we were… and to be honest we played really well again. I can’t remember the exact sequence but I think we hit the bar and had the rebound fallen to a right footer then we’d have scored, gave away a daft penalty (even though it was outside the box, you just clear that ball first time) but Palmer looked huge and they hit the post, saw other attempts cleared/saved/missed when we should’ve scored. And then we conceded another really poor goal… Townsend too easily beaten and another free header in our 6 yard box from Vardy. Criminal defending.

I felt CC had left the subs too late and then made a flurry of them that didn’t massively make sense. Swift and Chalobah were not the first subs I’d have made and I thought slowed us down, and then more changes were about to come when Kipre (seemingly a bit bored with our passive stuff) played a sublime ball for Wallace in behind Coady who had looked ropey all game, and Jed finished like a 20 goal a season striker.

It seemed to change CC’s mind and although Fellows and Phillips subs were understandable we didn’t get the balance right and then I thought it was wrong to take Wallace off for Maja. I have lots of faith in Maja but he’s just coming back and isn’t up to speed, and I don’t think he had a touch. Wallace was right in the game, we’ve got a full week to the next one, he’d just scored. Equally I’d have kept MJ on the pitch.

So aside from a couple of Swift long rangers we didn’t create that last golden chance.

There was still time for the ref to deny us a free kick on the very edge of their box and give it against Furlong for being kicked in mid air, and his last action was to give a free kick against us because Townsend cleared the ball and it hit their player in the face. Thanks ref. Brilliant.

Corberan was bullish after the game and the results went our way meaning 1 win is pretty much enough. I hope we go all out to get that next week.

  • Palmer - 6 Pretty good but a couple of moments where a bit or urgency would’ve been welcomed.
  • Furlong - 6 Mostly solid.
  • Bartley - 4 Another poor game. Questionable for both goals. Lots of pointing, poor decisions on the ball. Should’ve been dropped 4 games ago but have we left it too late now? I still would and see if Semi can hit the ground running.
  • Kipre - 7 really strong and wonderful assist
  • Townsend - 6 Got done for the second but I don’t think he had a bad game, and he’s still better than any other option there overall.
  • Okay - 6 Not always comfortable and an avoidable penalty even if it wasn’t.
  • Mowatt - 7 Really good, passed it so well.
  • M’Vila - 7 Impressive on the ball and his engine too. Good tackles. Once booked though, should’ve made way.
  • Grady - 6 The system gave him less influence but there were moments and he could’ve had a hat trick. Never stopped running.
  • Wallace - 7 Pulled them all over the place, created and took his goal really well.
  • MJ - 7 Had them on toast for spells. On another day he scores a couple. Can’t believe he didn’t put one away.
  • Chalobah - 6 Frustratingly casual or held it too long
  • Swift - 6 Had a go but not dynamic enough
  • Phillips - 6 Solid and used the ball well. Looks closer
  • Fellows - 6 Couldn’t get into it. Needed more minutes.
  • Maja - 5 wasn’t the game for him

Kev Buckley:

Lack of a goalscorer nullifies Corberan's tactical switch.

Despite a starting XI that had one less attacking midfielder than normal, the Albion, mostly on the back of what basketball aficionados would have recognised as the equivalent of a full court press, not only pressurised the Foxes right onto their own goal-line for the first twenty minutes or so but also created, as a result of that pressure, enough chances to have put the game beyond the home side, however, not being able to turn those chances into goals meant that by half-time, the Albion should have been two goals down.

In the absence of BTA, Wallace was asked to play the false number nine, but surprisingly, given his recent form there, Diangana wasn't asked to play as the "ten", as Corberan shuffled the pack so as to play without a "ten" and with three defensive midfielders, his two regulars, Yokuslu and Mowatt being joined by M'Vila, whilst Johnston and Diangana played as the wide forwards in a three.

In a way, the tactical switch merely matched up Leicester's 4-3-3, but with Albion's starting high press being so effective, the home side's positioning, at times, defied any categorisation that Ron Manager might have come up with, although with players running everywhere whilst attempting to find space, perhaps the game wasn't all that far away from "small boys in the park".

Just two minutes in and Leicester would be forced to cough it up and the ball ended up being played to Yokuslu, inside the area with a clear sight of goal: he just needed to hit the target to open the scoring, but he blazed it over.

As if to highlight the fluidity of the contest, Wallace would conjure up some brilliant right-wing play as thirteen minutes passed, skipping around what may be a full-back, but could easily have been a centre back, with the touchline paint visible on his boots as he galloped away in acres of space. The pull-back found his left-winger, Johnston, at the top of the box and central but, after he had skipped around a defender his on-target shot from the spot was blocked on the line.

Johnston would fashion another on-target shot a minute later by dribbling into the left of the area, but his shot went central and so straight at the keeper.

Pretty much all Albion up until then but just after twenty minutes, the inability to score when on top was brought sharply into focus after the home side crossed from our right-back area, and Bartley and Kipre somehow allowed Vardy to get into space between them right the middle of the goal, and although his attempt to divert the ball wide of Palmer failed, in that Palmer effected a save, the ball just sat up and was tapped home by the man following up.

Going behind, somewhat bizarrely, seemed to reduce Albion's desire to press as high and the rest of the half drifted into some slow-motion jockeying for position as neither side seemed to want to lose the ball, but also not really looking to force things.

With about two to go to half-time, the Leicester keeper decided to clear an underhit back-pass and hammered it upfield where it dropped towards the right corner of our box although some ten yards shy. Yokuslu, looking more and more like a third, right, centre-back, has the ball dropping over him, with Vardy running onto his shoulder, and decides to try and take a touch, but it's a poor touch and Vardy gets across him. The inevitable contact starts just outside the edge of the box but both players end up on the floor inside it, and the ref points to the spot.

Vardy took the pen, beat Palmer but hit the base of the post and the Albion went off just one goal down.

Five minutes after the restart, Wallace picked a pocket on halfway and although he can't make much of it, Johnston picks it up and runs at the left edge before moving it wide to Furlong who crosses along the ground from inside the box, were Johnston, having continued his run, dummies over it to set up M'Vlla. His shot is saved but the ball falls to Diangana who sidefoots it goalwards, only to see the keeper recover ground to save again, with the ball then rebounding off Diangana and heading for the net, only see it cleared from under the bar.

From the resulting corner, Kipre hits the bar and the rebound is just wide of enough of Diangana to see him unable to turn it goalwards from just outside the post.

Vardy would somehow fail to hit the target from inside the six-yard-box five minutes later, as he got in between Kipre and Townsend but not on the end of a cross from our right, before we were back up the other end where Diangana, having started a move down the right, somehow misses the target from a pull-back to the spot.

Furlong would be the last Albion player to see an effort from inside the box go wide, courtesy of a deflection, before Vardy was, once again, offered all the space he needed to score, this time at our right post, and this time in between another Albion defensive pairing, Yokuslu and Furlong, after Townsend had been beaten on his outside to allow a lovely cross to be delivered as sixty-five passed.

All three of Yokuslu, Mowatt and M'Vila departed on 70 mins, with Swift, Phillips and Chalobah coming on, the latter being the sole defensive midfielder, in behind Diangana and Swift, with Phillips being asked to remember how to play on the right-wing.

Five minutes later, with Maja being readied to come on for Wallace, Kipre, on the half-way line, spots the run of Wallace and delivers a perfect ball into the box that Wallace doesn't have to break stride to convert from the inside-left slot, with fifteen still to play.

Fellows, who would have come on with Maja had Wallace not scored, enters the field on his own to replace Johnston, although, for me that substitution seemed to take off our biggest threat.

Maja would finally get his appearance, with eight or so to go, but didn't have the desired impact within that eight, nor within the six minutes allowed for stoppages, with Albion's best two chances being shots from outside the box by Swift: the first hit well but always going over and the second, albeit on target, sliced to the extent that the keeper wasn't troubled.

Maybe all the missed chances in this game mean that, when (if?) we come up against sides of this quality again in the play-offs, we'll convert enough to win a game, or at least not lose a tie and so have a chance via a penalty shoot-out but, if anything, this loss pretty much paints a picture of the whole season: we just can't convert enough chances, no matter how few, or how many, we create.

Fortunately, both Norwich and Hull dropped points, so although remaining fifth remains in our hands, but we'll still have to score a couple to be sure.