Football: Booth comes to the rescue of an embarrassed Pressman

Leicester City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1
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The Independent Online
Leicester City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Andy Booth restored the smile to Ron Atkinson's face as Leicester allowed 10-man Wednesday to leave Filbert Street with a point yesterday.

Booth's goal five minutes from time deprived the home side of a victory they probably thought was in the bag after Steve Guppy's first-half goal was followed by the dismissal of the Wednesday defender Dejan Stefanovic two minutes before the interval.

The Yugoslav, already booked for encroaching at a free-kick, paid the price for bringing down Robbie Savage with an unnecessary trip from behind. To add to Atkinson's dismay, the Leicester player, in a wide position on the right and with his back towards the Wednesday goal, was posing no danger.

"We were not happy about the first booking but it was difficult to complain about the second," he conceded. Although he applauded the work rate of the players left on the field, Atkinson had clearly resigned himself to defeat, the equalising goal coming only after he had sent on an extra attacker in a last-gasp attempt to snatch some reward.

It was not undeserved, in fact, given that Wednesday, for whom Petter Rudi and the Swedish newcomer Niclas Alexandersson were impressive, had created the best chances of an open and entertaining first half.

But the imbalance of numbers should have been too much for them against a home side who looked physically stronger and Leicester's failure to take advantage frustrated their manager, Martin O'Neill, whose team is facing a mid-season crisis after winning only two Premiership matches in 12.

"I thought we played as well as we had since September so I'm heartily sick that we did not win," he said.

Kasey Keller's goalkeeping had been a vital early factor as the sure passing of Rudi and Alexandersson made holes in the home defence. In the space of three minutes, Keller twice stopped Booth from scoring with his head and then smothered a shot from Alexandersson, whom he was to thwart again before half-time.

Leicester, driven positively from midfield by Savage and Neil Lennon, carved out opportunities of their own, although not too many were clear cut. Guppy's goal, a close-range header from Muzzy Izzet's cross, owed much to Kevin Pressman's comic mishandling as the ball squirted over his shoulder like a slippery bar of soap before crossing the line.

Thereafter, however, they suffered through ineffective finishing, never more so than when Emile Heskey ran the ball straight into Pressman's arms.

Still, one would not have backed against a Leicester win until Richie Humphreys, with virtually his first touch of the ball, volleyed a cross to Booth, who controlled the ball on his chest and struck it sweetly as it dropped, with Keller this time unable to intercept.

Goals: Guppy (28) 1-0; Booth (85) 1-1.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Kamark, Elliott, Walsh (Prior, 57); Savage, Izzet, Lennon, Parker, Guppy; Marshall (Claridge, 70), Heskey. Substitutes not used: Cottee, Wilson, Arphexad (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nolan, Newsome, Walker, Stefanovic; Alexandersson, Rudi (Hyde, 70), Atherton, Pembridge (Collins 51, Humphreys, 84); Carbone, Booth. Substitutes not used: Whittingham, Clarke (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

Man of the match: Alexandersson.

Attendance: 20,800.

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