Football: Dynamic Leicester just short of a marksman

Coventry City 1 Leicester City 1
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The Independent Online
GIVEN THAT these are two teams in search of a striker, it was always likely that if either of them did score then one goal would be enough. Much credit to Leicester that it was not.

That is Leicester all over. If the Premiership had a prize for sheer intensity of effort they would win year after year. After losing Frank Sinclair, sent off early in the second half (referee Mike Riley has agreed to review the incident), they threw their all into saving a point but still conceded a goal, 12 minutes from the end, when Darren Huckerby stooped to head Coventry in front.

But Leicester should adopt "never say die" as their club motto. Beaten? Us? Not a bit of it. Loins girded, they went for the equaliser and got it, with two minutes to spare.

Emile Heskey was the man in the right place. Just recovered from the ankle injury that probably cost him an England cap against the Czech Republic, he suffered back damage in the first half that hampered his mobility thereafter, but he is driven by the Leicester spirit and did not give in.

That spirit is the mark of Martin O'Neill and there is no one, it seems, whom it has not touched, especially at the heart of the team, where Steve Walsh and Matt Elliott are twin souls, and where Neil Lennon and Muzzy Izzet perform with energy that never flags.

Izzet is hugely underrated, as dynamic as his partner in central midfield but with brilliantly nimble feet and wits that are equally quick. All in all this was an ugly skirmish, played in a rush and without much attention to quality. Izzet can scrap with the best of them but he can also make you appreciate the deftness of his touch by twisting or turning with almost balletic agility.

He was the most impressive midfielder among both sets, outshining even Gary McAllister, whose progress Craig Brown was in the stands to assess. McAllister, fully recovered from the ligament damage that shattered his World Cup dreams, will not be long out of a Scotland shirt. Whether Izzet ever gets to wear an England one is another matter. Glenn Hoddle, once his manager at Chelsea, used to admire him greatly; now he shows no sign of noticing him at all.

Meanwhile, both O'Neill and Gordon Strachan, the Coventry manager, continue to look high and low for strikers.

Leicester have been muddling along with Heskey, who needs a good partner, and the 33-year-old Tony Cottee (missing on Saturday) and doing none too badly. With their dynamism and a prolific scorer up front, they could be more than merely hard to subdue. O'Neill has tried for Ashley Ward and John Hartson and will keep trying.

Goals: Huckerby (78) 1-0; Heskey (88) 1-1.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Williams, Shaw, Edworthy; Telfer, McAllister, Clement (Boateng, 31), Froggatt; Soltvedt, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Breen, Jackson, Shilton, Ogrizovic (gk).

Leicester City (4-4-2): Keller; Sinclair, Elliott, Walsh, Ullathorne; Impey, Lennon, Izzet, Guppy; Heskey, Fenton (Savage, 73). Substitutes not used: Taggart, Parker, Zagorakis, Arphexad (gk).

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

Sending-off: Leicester: Sinclair. Bookings: Coventry: Huckerby, Froggatt, Telfer. Leicester: Izzet.

Man of the match: Izzet.

Attendance: 19,894.

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