Football: Speedie has momentum

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The Independent Online
Leicester City. . 3

Southend United. .0

RESILIENCE is a quality of which Leicester have a lasting supply. In the last two seasons, they have reached the play-off final, each time losing to a disputed penalty. It is hard to imagine anything that might sap morale more, apart from it happening a third time. Perhaps they can spare themselves the agony this season by going straight up.

So far, in an open First Division, they look as likely as anyone to be playing in the Premiership next winter. Yesterday's fifth win in six games at home gave them top place on goals scored over Charlton, who play today. It is the first time Leicester have led the section under Brian Little.

Southend were a potentially awkward hurdle but Leicester went ahead after nine minutes and overcame the loss of two midfield players in the opening 23 minutes without serious damage to their momentum. They added a second goal in first-half injury time and made victory comfortable from the penalty spot 14 minutes from the end.

With Steve Walsh chopped out of their options by long- term injury, Leicester rely on pace on the ground and Southend failed to contain it at the significant moments.

David Speedie, whose streetwise touches have a telling effect at this level, set up the opening score, shielding a long clearance by the goalkeeper before slipping a pass into the area just as Julian Joachim, the England youth international, hit the accelerator to leave his marker in his wake. Two minutes into first-half stoppage time, the substitute David Oldfield raced on to Colin Hill's firmly struck low pass to leave Southend with a difficult second-half task.

It was typical of his unwavering commitment to attack that Barry Fry should replace a defender with a forward at half- time. But Leicester's defence denied even the consistently threatening Ricky Otto a way through and Gary Poole's trip on Speedie enabled Steve Thompson to remove any possibility of a comeback.

(Photograph omitted)