|I last reported on our cup game at Pompey which was also played in abysmal weather on the South Coast. At least on Sky this Friday we got to see Kelly Cates sharing 2 umbrellas with Carra and GNev on the rain sodden SMS pitch. The blustery wind made for good sport.
Both sides were unaltered from the previous game. Leicester kept the players who saw off Burnley last weekend, lined up 4-5-1 but quickly becoming 4-3-3 when the ball was acquired. Saints kept the 3-5-2 that morphs into 5-4-1 when the ball is given away.
There were, however, two (at kick off) football firsts to record:
- the new Nike Hi-Viz winter ball made an introduction
- both goalkeepers were sons of former PL goalkeepers.
Part of my Friday ritual is to prepare for the weekend’s football by reading The Fan Matrix in the “i”. Most club representatives usually speculate about their upcoming match or the failings of their current coach. Last Friday, the Saints entry was credited to Heisenberg from The Saints Web. I wrote it down to include in this match report as it captures what many of us now feel about our club.
“SFC have killed the spirits of most in and around the club these past few years. Hope, ambition, vision, excitement, have all been slowly drained. Whether staff or fan, during the last 3 seasons you will be affected by a club fighting downward momentum.”
No wonder many supporters were fearing what a free-scoring Leicester side might achieve...
|Carra left the other rain-soaked presenters to join Bill Leslie on the gantry. At kick off, the weather was still vile and some fans close to the pitch were wearing plastic rain capes to try to stay dry.
The first action saw Tielemans carry the ball towards our goal. PEH tracked him and, thankfully, stopped him by legal means. The game then settled into a slow back and forth as players got used to the pace of the ball. Saints pressing won some early ball but we did nothing with it.
Leicester’s next attack was halted by Bednarek but the Foxes recovered the ball, allowing Barnes to shoot wide on 8m. Saints passing was poor and the away team were already dominating.
On 10m, Saints gave the ball away in midfield and Leicester worked it left to Chilwell. He found Barnes and this time his shot was on target. Gunn blocked it but the ball merely fell into the path of Chilwell who tucked the ball beyond him. 0-1.
Worse was to come. VAR was looking at Bertie’s mistimed tackle on Perez in the build-up. Despite the conditions, in slow motion his studs clearly caught the Spaniard’s leg and it looked bad. A red card was shown and we were down to 10 men.
JWP was shifted to plug the gap on the left and Redmond dropped into midfield. The Foxes scented blood and our formation became 5-3-1 with Ings charging about as Leicester kept the ball. We got brief respite when Tielemans fouled Ings but possession was quickly squandered.
On 17m, Barnes got down the left before cutting the ball back. Valery only succeeded in squaring it across our box so Tielemens could gleefully slot it. 0-2. Two minutes later Perez cut in from the right, played a 1-2 with Tielemans, and drove the ball past Gunn. 0-3. In my notes I wrote “Goodnight Nurse!”
With 20m gone, many Saints fans had seen enough and began to leave. Sky showed the Attempts Stats: 0(0) - 6(4). It was going to be a long night for all who remained.
Maddison swung in a 22m corner which Vestergaard headed away. When the ball was played back in, Gunn caught it (at last). Then Saints finally mounted an attack but Soyuncu headed the ball to safety.
By now, the back 3 had been dispensed with. Bednarek was on the right and Valery the left in a back 4 with JWP now right midfield. Saints looked a little better but the forward passes were rarely reaching the intended target.
On 31m we finally put together a decent move. Redmond and Ings fed PEH whose ball into the box found Valery. The youngster drew a save from Schmeichel - hooray! Saints fans had further cause to cheer when, on 33m, Vardy carried the ball a long way, with our defenders backing off: he took a pot from outside the box and shanked it horribly wide.
On 35m, Leicester cut us open again with the industrious Chilwell finding Barnes again. His low shot squirmed under Gunn but, for once, our keeper got lucky and grabbed the ball before it crossed the line. A minute later, Ings was able to rob Perez in his own half and the striker turned and shot just over the bar.
Then Perez danced through our defence before drawing a save from Gunn but our young keeper was beaten again on 39m. Chilwell (again) put a peach of a cross towards the back post. Perez left Valery standing and volleyed home. 0-4: now it seemed only abandonment of the match could save Saints.
On 44m, last ditch defending stopped Maddison from adding a fifth but relief was short-lived. Within a minute, JWP rose to meet another Chilwell cross but only succeeded in deflecting the ball into the path of Vardy. 0-5. FFS!
Saints survived the 2 added minutes but, as they left the pitch at half-time, many more home fans left the stadium. Unbeknown to me, my mate Pedro (from Leicester) messaged me but, happily, my mobile was switched off.
Saints made two half-time changes. Ings had run miles and Carra suggested he was being protected for future matches. Vestergaard, however, was presumably removed because Ralph thought Maya and Bednarek had performed better and they reverted to twin centre-halves in the back four. Stephens came on at right back and Danso on the left, allowing the struggling Valery to play further forward.
Maya immediately made a horrible mistake but Vardy’s shot was tipped behind by Gunn. The resulting corner eventually found Evans but his effort was held by the keeper. Further pressure eased temporarily when Perez fouled Maya but Gunn’s free-kick was dealt with easily by Leicester.
Gunn caught a Chilwell cross then saved from Perez but Leicester continued to pass the ball until openings appeared. On 57m Barnes played a sublime chip over our defence which Perez controlled and completed his hat-trick. 0-6.
A minute later Barnes sent Chilwell off down the left. His fine cross saw Vardy rise, unchallenged, to head another. 0-7. If it were boxing, the Ref would have stopped it...
On 61m a rare Saints attack resulted in a free-kick. JWP strode up and curled the ball directly into Schmeichel’s gloves. Then it was Leicester pressing forwards again. On 64m Bednarek diverted the ball behind for a corner. When the cross came in, again it was the Pole who got there first to head it away. I wrote “he deserves better”.
On 66m Redmond was fouled in shooting range of goal. JWP’s effort evaded the wall but not Schmeichel who saved his shot. Moments later JWP was presented with another shooting chance after good work by Danso and PEH. The ever alert Soyuncu hurled his frame in the way, deflecting the ball to safety.
Redmond’s efforts as “lone striker” had been largely fruitless but on 69m he advanced with the ball before unleashing a fierce drive which Schmeichel did well to tip over. Saints then replaced Valery with Armstrong.
On 72m Rodgers replaced Barnes with Albrighton but Leicester kept on pushing forward. A minute later Bednarek prevented Vardy’s hat-trick by heading over his own bar. Our defence watched as the corner came in, allowing the unmarked Perez to drive the ball low across our goal area but Evans was unable to force it home. That was the Spaniard’s final contribution as he was soon replaced by Gray.
On 75m Saints won another free kick. JWP’s ball was cleared but, for probably the only time in the match, Saints retained possession for a period. The remaining fans greeted each successful pass with “Ole!” Armstrong then won a corner but Redmond was unable to convert it.
Leicester then moved upfield where Stephens cleared Gray’s cross. They then enjoyed another period of passing which ended when Chilwell’s speculative effort flew over Gunn’s bar. We then saw a few Leicester passes go astray but on 83m a huge cheer went up when the referee fell over.
Moments later Vardy was upended and Maddison walked purposely forward to take charge. Gunn lined up his defensive wall and then placed himself behind it. Unsurprisingly Maddison curled the ball into the unguarded side and we were 8-0 down. Bill Leslie took great delight in telling the nation this was the biggest ever away win in the Premier League.
We survived an Albrighton shot and another corner before just 2 added minutes were shown by the 4th Official. Then, with seconds remaining, Vardy was fouled in the box by Bednarek. By the time VAR had confirmed it was a penalty we were in the 94m. Of course, Vardy scored. 0-9 and hat-tricks for Perez and Vardy.
A year ago this week Leicester’s chairman and 4 others died in a helicopter crash close to their ground. A garden of remembrance was opened on Sunday for fans to pay their respects. It goes without saying, they will have better memories of October 2019.
I sat through at least half an hour of Leicester celebrations before we finally saw an interview with Ralph. The poor bugger seemed shell-shocked and took “full responsibility” for what had happened.
In bed, I switched on my Kindle and read Pedro’s message: “0-5???” I could only reply “Ouch!”
Man of the Match
|Most sources gave this accolade to Ben Chilwell. The young full back scored the opener before delivering a string of assists for team mates. Leicester will do well to hold onto such potential as the bigger fish are already scenting blood in the water.
However, my job is to identify a home player who stood out on a desperate night for Saints. There was only one. Jan Bednarek gave his all for the cause. While others’ heads dropped and shoulders slumped, he continued to try and stem the blue tide. It was a futile but gutsy performance which stood out amongst the mediocrity of Saints’ worst night ever.
After a VAR review, following the first goal, Bertrand was shown a straight red card
Referee: Andre Marriner
Just look at the following shaming statistics, it seems that they just couldn't be bothered, judging from the fact that there were only 3 fouls and one of them was Bertrand's tackle for which he was sent off.