Football: Roberts' strike rescues Leicester

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Leicester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Coventry City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

TWO MEN sent off, three bookings and four goals added up to a truly ferocious Midlands derby at Filbert Street last night.

For the committed in a 19,372 crowd, it was a red-blooded evening fuelled by passionate local rivalries. But for the neutrals it was a shapeless scrap of patchy quality.

The decisions of the referee, Keith Cooper, which led to the early departures of Gary Gillespie and Jimmy Willis, for first-half fouls on Julian Joachim and Paul Cook respectively, overshadowed all else. Both seemed harsh and sparked controversy.

Surprisingly, Coventry's manager, Phil Neal, was more upset by Cooper's decison to allow Leicester's late equaliser by Iwan Roberts, which he claimed was offside. 'That cost me two points and six places,' Neal said. Coventry, for whom Gillespie started for the first time since leaving for Liverpool in 1983, took the lead after 12 minutes. Dion Dublin, the target of some crude challenges, flicked on a free- kick by Ally Pickering and Roy Wegerle, falling as he shot, drove beyond Kevin Poole from 20 yards.

Within minutes, Lee Philpott and Roberts were booked for fouls. Then the impressive Mark Draper hit the bar with a curling free-kick, before Gillespie was given the red card after 28 minutes after an attempted tackle on Joachim. Video replays showed he touched the ball and made little contact with the man.

The referee levelled up the numbers 14 minutes later, dismissing Willis for raising an elbow in his challenge on Cook. But Leicester equalised within three minutes, Roberts reacting first when Steve Ogrizovic palmed away Joachim's close-range header.

The second half was as rushed as the first, with Joachim's wild finishing preceding Coventry's second goal after 74 minutes. A fine pass by Cook found Pickering and his diagonal drive was deflected in by Dublin.

Leicester, chasing everything, had Mark Blake cautioned for another foul on Dublin before Roberts twisted on to Lee Philpott's cross in a thicket of legs to claim the final word.

The relief was tangible.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Poole; Grayson, Lewis, Willis (Agnew, 70), Mohan; Carr (Smith, 46) Draper, Blake, Philpott; Joachim, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Smith, Ward.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Pickering, Busst, Gillespie, Morgan; Flynn, Cook, Darby, Jones; Wegerle (Borrows, 53) Dublin. Substitutes not used: Quinn, Gould.

Referee: K Cooper (Mid-Glamorgan).