10-man Leicester City fell to Aston Villa by a score of 2-1 on Tuesday evening at the King Power. Ollie Watkins opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half, but the Foxes equalised through a Harvey Barnes stunner. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall saw red midway through the second half, and the Villans were able to take advantage with a Bertrand Traore winner just before the end of regular time.
Manager Bre... Adam Sadler made two changes to the side that lost to Crystal Palace on Saturday, dropping Tete and Patson Daka from the starting XI: Daniel Iversen, Timothy Castagne, Harry Souttar, Wout Faes, Victor Kristiansen, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Nampalys Mendy, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison (C), Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The Foxes came out of the gates in a combative mood, with plenty of crunching challenges and a well-organized press. Villa had the majority of the possession, but they were doing nothing at all with it. Meanwhile the Foxes were finding space on the break with Barnes getting behind Ashley Young with regularity.
City should have taken the lead on the quarter hour. Leicester were (wrongly) awarded a corner on the Villa right. Madders delivered it to the far post, where Souttar was in acres of space. Well, not literally “acres”, but literally “yards,” which ought to be enough. He rose to power his header into the ground but got his angles wrong and it came off the post with keeper Emiliano Martinez well-beaten.
Leicester were made to pay on 25’. Emiliano Buendia found Ollie Watkins with an inch-perfect pass that split the central defenders. Both Faes and Souttar closed him down and Iversen made himself big, but the striker just managed to poke it towards goal. It took forever to dribble across the line, but it just did, giving the visitors the lead with their first shot of the match.
The Foxes equalised on 35’ in absolutely vintage fashion. Faes played a long ball over the top to Barnes. The winger’s first touch was sublime, taking out Ashley Young and putting him through on goal. He bore down with only one thing in mind, and it was disgusting. He rifled his shot inside the far post and into the net.
It was nearly two on 40’. Once again Faes found Barnes with a long diagonal ball. Barnes took it in stride and the entire Villa defence collapsed on him, but he cut inside and got a good look at the goal. His shot may have been curling inside the far post, but Tyrone Mings got a head to it and deflected it towards the centre of the net. Martinez was ever so fortunate to get a leg to it and keep it out.
Neither side made any changes at the half as the match remained finely balanced. The play started in a more scrappy manner than what we saw in the first half with both sides needing a win but desperately needing to avoid a defeat.
This put a lot of pressure on referee Graham Scott as both sides were committing to their challenges and trying to prevent their opponents from having any time on the ball. Castagne picked up a yellow on 55’ and Dewsbury-Hall followed him into the book 64’. KDH wasn’t haven’t much of a match and Sadler was poised to make his first change on 70’, replacing the midfielder with Ricardo Pereira.
He never got the opportunity as KDH picked up a second yellow on 72’, reducing the Foxes to 10 men for the last quarter hour of the match. The first change was instead replacing Vardy with Patson Daka. The Villans were clearly on top, but it was hardly one-way traffic as City looked dangerous every time they broke forward.
Badly need Tielemans back— bluefox_lcfc (@BlueFox_LCFC) April 4, 2023
They’re not wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.
With the match looking as though it was going to end in a nail-biting draw, the Luck of the East Midlands struck again. City struggled to clear their lines, and Ndidi left his pass to Barnes short. Substitute Bertrand Traore was on it in a flash and hit a first-time curler from outside the box that no keeper on this planet could have saved.
City fought like their lives depended on it and had a late penalty appeal, but it was turned down after a look at the monitor (and, if I’m being honest, probably rightly so). With all of the drama, the match went into the 97th minute, but the Foxes weren’t able to find the equaliser they so badly needed.
When it rains...
That could so easily have been a win. Souttar put the easiest chance he’ll ever have against the post. Both of KDH’s yellows were soft (but certainly not unreasonably so). Traore’s winner was...you remember that curler that Son scored for Spurs last year? This was several levels beyond that, and it was his first goal in 11 months (edit: It was 23 months. time flies). We had a (somewhat weak) penalty shout at the death.
None of that matters, though. We got nothing from the match and we have to start finding a way to pick up points. It would be nice to get the ball to our strikers from time to time, but that might be a bridge too far.
We remain on 25 points from 29 matches, which puts us 19th on the table and two points from safety. What that means is the next match is as close to a “must-win” as you’re ever going to see in mid-April. We host 18th-placed Bournemouth on Saturday before travelling to the blue side of Manchester on the 15th.