Football: Preece lifts Palace

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The Independent Online
Leicester City. . . .0 Crystal Palace. . . .1 Preece 36 Attendance: 20,022 THE electronic scoreboard at Filbert Street flashes up the latest goals from all over the country, including scores from the more obscure corners of the Endsleigh League. It may be that Leicester are living in their recent First Division past, but more likely they are keeping tabs on the opponents they expect to meet next year.

Brian Little's side lost a game they should have drawn. Like so many teams who make up the numbers in the Premiership, commitment and work-rate are not a problem. Technique is, especially in attack, where Leicester clumped their way into the box with an absolute absence of finesse. In the first half, Lee Philpott chested down Julian Joachim's pass, turned and sliced horribly wide. Twenty minutes later, Crystal Palace executed a similar move with more success: Ricky Newman - Palace's best player in the opinion of Alan Smith, their manager - lofted a precise pass to Chris Armstrong, who spun the ball off his chest adroitly. Andy Preece picked his spot and drove into the corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Leicester had plenty of time to draw level, but this looked unlikely unless from one of Mark Draper's runs from deep. Chances came and went, Mark Blake being particularly culpable when he slammed into the side-netting with only the excellent Nigel Martyn to beat. Leicester lacked the system or ability to bring the ball down. Franz Carr was his usual peripheral self, and only the Platt- like Draper acquitted himself well.

It was Palace's third 1-0 win in a week. 'You live on your nerves when you're 1-0 up,' Smith said, before adding, 'it's like sex - you don't enjoy it until the aftermath.' He enthused about Martyn, whom the watching Gordon Banks must have admired, and praised his team's sense of purpose and discipline. 'Clough's sides often had this kind of 1-0 win,' he mused. 'Mind you, look what it did to him.'