We’ll have another Midlands derby next week in the FA Cup Fourth Round after Leicester equalized through captain Wes Morgan late in the second half to draw 2-2 against Derby County.
The Rams were good for value on the day and deserved another crack at the fifth round after responding strongly from a woeful Darren Bent own goal off a Foxes corner early in the match.
Leicester resorted back to the 4-4-2 with last season’s consistent pairing of Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy up front. Ben Chilwell got the start in the left of midfield, leaving recently-returned Riyad Mahrez on the bench after crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria. Fellow countryman Islam Slimani was not in the 18 of Leicester.
The match started off on good terms for Leicester at the expense of Darren Bent, who conceded a nightmarish own goal in the eighth minute off a Leicester corner. After Wes Morgan headed the ball back across goal, Chris Baird led the ball back to the line for Bent who comically sliced the ball into his own goal on an attempted clearance. The blunder will surely go down as one of the all-time worst in the FA Cup, and Leicester took the early advantage at Bent’s expense.
But Bent redeemed himself perfectly 13 minutes later and kick-started a strong end to the first half for the Rams. Will Hughes sent the ball back into the box off a corner clearance to the head of Bent, who smartly directed the ball to the bottom left corner and past Schmeichel to level the score 1-1 in the 21st minute. Five minutes before the break Derby were deservedly in front after another great goal, this time from the foot of Craig Bryson, found its way past Schmeichel and the lazy Leicester defense from just inside the box to lead the Rams into the break up 2-1.
The introduction of Demarai Gray at the start of the second half for Christian Fuchs injected extra offense into the Leicester attack, which began to generate significant chances off the restart.
The introduction should’ve leveled the score in the 50th minute when Albrighton’s low cross to the feet of Gray was shot directly into Derby ‘keeper Scott Carson’s chest. Just seconds later, Gray curled one off the base of the post and Okazaki’s second effort is blocked then hit back into Carson’s midriff to keep the Rams ahead. Carson and the Derby defense were shaking their heads wondering how they were still ahead.
Late in the match after Mahrez and Ahmed Musa were subbed in, the Foxes found their equalizer off a corner. The cross was swung in by Gray, who met the head of Morgan to throttle it past Derby to equalize. The Foxes found respite late in the match to force a replay next week at the King Power Stadium after the Rams were able to give the champions a run for their money.
A strong second half bailed out the Foxes, who were unable to build off an early gift from Bent to shut Derby out of the match. The Foxes look towards a Tuesday clash with Burnley in the Premier League before setting their sights on the Fourth Round Replay with Derby.