Football: Exuberant Spencer

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The Independent Online
Chelsea 4

Spencer 1, 49, Peacock 4, Shipperley 76

Leicester City 0

Attendance: 18,397

LEICESTER CITY'S fragility was clear within 20 seconds at Stamford Bridge. In Chelsea's first attack John Spencer, the smallest man on the pitch, was allowed to climb to Dennis Wise's cross above a slumbering defence and place a header inside Kevin Poole's near post.

Spencer, returning from a calf injury, lasted 54 minutes and in that time accomplished more than most forwards do in a month. Three minutes after his goal he was involved again before Gavin Peacock finally stooped to head a second.

Leicester pushed up Franz Carr, one of football's unhappy wanderers who signed for them yesterday after a loan period, but apart from one first-half run past Nigel Spackman followed by an excellent cross, Carr's fitful trickery made no difference. Nevertheless, funnelling the ball out to him on the right and hoping for the best was Leicester's only attacking ploy.

When Chelsea had the ball, which was often, their talented midfield gambolled through orchards of free space. Spackman both intercepted and created from the base of the diamond, David Rocastle had a flawless game on the right, Peacock was allowed to unfurl his colours and Wise's passing was perfect.

Two up in four minutes, and the only question remaining was how many Chelsea would score. Spencer alone went close four more times during his exuberant first half. A slow-motion lob landed just the wrong side of the bar, then a chip over Poole sailed narrowly over. Poole also punched away a shot and saw a drive strike his body as Spencer ran rampant. An over-ambitious bicycle-kick was easily forgiven.

Meanwhile Paul Furlong was tormenting the right-back Simon Grayson, so much so that Grayson failed to reappear for the second half. Furlong hit the post in each half and only bad luck prevented the home side scoring again before the


Leicester's chances were rare: one inconsequential shot by Julian Joachim in each half. Little was seen of the much- praised midfielder Mark Draper.

Spencer scored a second after 50 minutes, calmly turning in Peacock's threaded pass, before limping off. His replacement, the bustling Neil Shipperley, added the fourth after another magical Wise pass. Wise nearly collected his own reward but headed just over. Rocastle's delicate chip and Steve Clarke's run and shot also deserved goals.