Football: Joachim's off day worries Little

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The Independent Online
Swindon Town. . .1

Leicester City. .1

IT WAS like Gary Lineker being done for ram-raiding, the man from the Leicester Mercury quipped. The referee's decision to dismiss Leicester's Julian Joachim for apparently swinging at Colin Calderwood, the Swindon skipper sent off at Filbert Street in December, was greeted initially with surprise and then with concern for the future.

The 18-year-old striker, who those connected with the City camp consider the most unlikely of aggressors, is in good hands at Leicester, and his intelligent manager, Brian Little, should ensure that the teenager quickly forgets a long jog off the County Ground pitch with the taunts of the Town ringing in his ears.

Of more disquiet to Little is his line-up as the First Division play-offs beckon. Leicester need five points from four games to guarantee an extension to their season but, after three sendings-off in their last five outings, suspensions could take a toll. Certainly Joachim and Steve Agnew, sent off in midweek, will watch part of the denouement from the stands.

But those available have the requisite will to serve Little well. Their power and strength of purpose, which had brought them nine wins in 11 games, was clearly evident throughout against Swindon, who dominated for long periods but could prise only a point from a weakened opposition.

Where Town have their obvious stars in Hoddle, Hazard and the splendid Bodin, Leicester have few headline-grabbers. What they possess is a sound goalkeeper in Kevin Poole and a solid, muscular rearguard. A midfield of average flair but prodigious running feeds the ball forward to the tall Steve Walsh, who has justified Little's gamble of converting him from centre-half to centre-forward with a stream of goals.

Walsh's 13th of the season was a typical strike, a thumping far-post header from Lee Philpott's driven cross from the right in the 21st minute. Joachim's expulsion, eight minutes before half-time, turned the tide from blue to red and the rest of the game was a Hoddle-orchestrated procession towards Poole.

Leicester, roared on by their dedicated followers, stood firm but a gap had to appear. It did in the 71st minute when Nicky Summerbee chipped the ball over the defence for the stopper, Shaun Taylor, to show a striker's touch and clip the equaliser.

Goals: Walsh (21) 0-1; Taylor (70) 1-1.

Swindon Town: Digby; Summerbee, Bodin, Hoddle, Calderwood, Taylor, Hazard, MacLaren, Mitchell, Ling, Maskell (Marwood, 88). Substitute not used: Close.

Leicester City: Poole; Mills, Whitlow, Smith, Walsh, Hill, Oldfield, Thompson, Agnew (Grayson, 77), Joachim, Philpott (James, 77).

Referee: J Key (Sheffield).

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