Leicester City held on to take all three points against a stubborn Birmingham City side Monday evening at St. Andrews. Stephy Mavididi and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall scored on either side of a Jordan James strike to go into the break with a 2-1 advantage. Mavididi struck against to give the Foxes a two-goal cushion, but another James goal set up a nervy finish.
Strange match, that. Leicester weathered a somewhat baffling early storm, took control of the match, and should have been home and dry early in the second half. Poor finishing and poor decision-making conspired to keep the hosts within striking distance. The Foxes survived a late flurry by the Blues, but this match should have been over by the hour mark.
Both wingers were entirely too much for the Birmingham defenders. If I had to choose (and I don’t, but I’m going to anyway), I’d say Mavididi was ever-so-slightly the more unplayable. This was also the best match in a good while for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. You’d think that, with the three of them on song, it would have been a comfortable evening, but the Foxes conceded twice for just the second time this season. And for the second time in two matches. That trend seems worth watching.
The win gives City 55 points from 22 matches which is quite good. With Ipswich and Leeds dropping points this weekend, we now have a 3-point advantage over the Tractor Boys and a 13-point cushion for automatic promotion. We close out the first half of the season on Saturday when we host Rotherham United. Boxing Day will see us travel to East Anglia to square off against the aforementioned Ipswich Town side.
Sometimes, you just have to admire the amount of work that goes into these things.
Leicester City: Mads Hermansen, Ricardo Pereira (C), Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi, Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Abdul Fatawu, Stephy Mavididi (Hamza Choudhury 71’), Patson Daka (Tom Cannon 78’)
Birmingham City: John Ruddy, Lee Buchanan, Marc Roberts, Dion Sanderson (C), Krystian Bielik, Juninho Bacuna, Siriki Dembele, Jordan James, Jay Stansfield, Ivan Sunjic, Emanuel Aiwu
Key Moments and Notes
7’- Close! The Foxes fail to clear a free kick and it falls to Dembele. He shows marvellous footwork and gets off a low drive that Hermansen does well to save.
8’- Close! A long throw finds Bielik between the two Leicester central defenders. He’s facing away from goal but flicks it brilliantly backwards and Hermansen has to be alert to tip it over the bar.
9’- Close! The onslaught continues! The corner is a beauty and it causes all kinds of chaos in the box. Justin’s clearance thunders off the post! That was very, very close.
10’- GOAL! From the clearance, Fatawu is off to the races. He slides it to Mavididi on his left and the Derby-born winger does well to lift it over Ruddy and into the net.
11’- Mavididi gets a yellow for his extended celebration, which is just folding his arms in front of the Blues’ supporters who are wearing Jamie Vardy masks. Worth it.
14’- GOAL! Daka tries to play a dummy to Mavididi, but it isn’t on and Birmingham break. The final ball to James leaves the midfielder a lot to do. He does it though, shifting it onto his right boot and slotting into the far corner past Hermansen.
21’- GOAL! Daka wins it on the edge of his own penalty area and Fatawu is off to the races again. He threads a ball forward for KDH to chase and it’s a chase he wins. He rounds Ruddy and slams home from close range. Another emphatic celebration. There’s some bad blood here.
27’- Sanderson is whistled for a foul in the Leicester area. That’s the first Birmingham City foul after the Foxes have been penalized seven times. I don’t believe that’s a fair reflection of how the match has been played.
34’- Faes wins a header and is in perfect position to return it to Hermansen, but instead, he turns and beats four Blues on the dribble. Eventually, Stansfield just grabs his shirt and pulls him back for Birmingham’s second foul. No yellow, which is a bit surprising.
38’- Close! Mavididi and KDH turn their markers inside-out and it’s the Shepshed Pirlo who pulls it back for Daka. The Zambia man is unmarked just six yards from goal, but his first-time effort is well wide.
44’- Mavididi is just too much for the hosts’ defenders. He beats two men off the dribble and is clipped by Aiwu just outside the area. The referee isn’t having it, but that doesn’t change what the replays show.
45’- Fatawu plays in Daka, but the striker tries to backheel to KDH instead of taking the shot. His decision-making has been baffling tonight.
HALF TIME: Birmingham City 1 - 2 Leicester City
46’- No change for either side. Here we go!
48’- GOAL! Bielik turns it over in midfield, Daka backheels to Dewsbury-Hall, and the break is on. He finds Mavididi on the left and the winger does the rest. He cuts inside and curls it into the far corner. It took a friendly deflection off of Aiwu’s boot, but it was probably going to beat Ruddy anyway.
51’- Close! Dewsbury-Hall is again the provider as he carries the ball deep into Birmingham territory and finds Fatawu in space on the right. The teenager brings it down, cuts inside his man, and curls one that seems destined to curl inside the post but it just doesn’t have enough spin on it.
62’- A spell of pressure here from the hosts. They’re pressing aggressively and causing Leicester some problems. Fatawu gets away with a very poor challenge. The commentators say “If we had VAR in the Championship, he might see a yellow.” Sigh.
68’- The Foxes launch another long, flowing move featuring some nice passes by KDH and Ndidi. The Nigerian finds Fatawu and he tries the “cut inside and shoot” bit again. I pity the supporter who caught that one because it was travelling. And because they have such poor seats because this one missed by a quite a bit.
71’- ESPN’s feed cut out on me and when it resumed, Hamza Choudhury was on for Mavididi. This means KDH is wide left, Ricardo moves forward to replace Dewsbury-Hall, and Choudhury is the right back/DMC.
74’- GOAL! Birmingham are back in it. James and Ricardo take each other out going for a loose ball and James is the beneficiary of the error. He takes a touch and then fires home off of Vestergaard’s posterior, looping past the stranded Hermansen.
78’- Tom Cannon comes on for Daka. Tough night for Patson, who worked his socks off but just couldn’t get it right in the final third.
83’- Close! Cannon should have opened his account. Fatawu does all the hard work, beating multiple defenders and then pulling it back for the former Everton striker. It’s not the best angle in the world, but there’s an awful lot of goal to aim for.
89’- A double substitution to see the match out by Enzo Maresca. Cesare Casadei and Harry Souttar are on for Ndidi and Justin respectively. Five minutes will be added on.
90+3’- Close! How has he missed? Leicester get forward and Ricardo lays a peach of a pass in the path of Casadei’s run. He somehow contrives to put it wide of the near post with the goalmouth gaping.
90+6’- Fatawu has it in the corner and the whistle goes. That was a lot closer than it should have been.
Does this qualify as “trolling”?
FULL TIME: Birmingham City 2 - 3 Leicester City