Football: Leicester rescued by Roberts' trick

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The Independent Online
Leicester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Derby County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

ALL SIX goals were scored during the opening 30 minutes of an East Midlands derby which offered high excitement but produced a result that benefits neither side in particular as the scramble for passports to the Premiership intensifies.

Leicester, who have suffered the agony of defeat at Wembley after reaching consecutive play-off finals, may find the direct route to promotion closed to them again, having taken only two of the last 15 available points. Injuries have severely undermined their cause, especially in defence, where they looked worryingly vulnerable last night.

Derby have suffered much less in that respect but blending the pounds 10m worth of talent he inherited into a consistently successful unit is still proving difficult for their manager, Roy McFarland.

None the less, Derby looked the likelier winners last night. They took a 2-0 lead within 13 minutes. Paul Kitson, facing the club that sold him two years ago, exposed the home defence on two counts when, in the absence of an adequate challenge, he picked out a gap between the goalkeeper, Gary Poole, and the left-hand post to open the account. Eight minutes later, Jimmy Willis, under pressure from Kitson, headed Mark Pembridge's free-kick into his own net.

Leicester's response was swift and, for Iwan Roberts, memorable. The strapping Welsh striker notched a hat-trick in the space of 12 minutes between the 17th and the 29th. He directed a powerful header in off the bar from Steve Agnew's left- wing free-kick and a fierce half- volley in from 18 yards after a corner fired in from the right by the same player. His third was less spectacular, more of a prod than a shot, but the celebration no less joyful.

It was short-lived, however, Kitson, allowed to continue after appearing to push Simon Grayson out of his way, drilling another precise shot past Poole.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Poole; Blake, Willis, Grayson, Lewis; Gee (James, 76), Oldfield (Kerr, 36), Agnew, Ormondroyd; Roberts, Joachim. Substitute not used: Hoult (gk).

Derby County (5-3-2): Taylor; Charles, Short, Ratcliffe, Williams, Nicholson; Harkes, Cowans, Pembridge; Johnson (Gabbiadini, 88), Kitson. Substitutes not used: Kavanagh, Sutton (gk).

Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).

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