Adams heartened by rearguard action as Dublin's homecoming falls flat

Leicester City 0 - West Ham United 0
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The Independent Football

Leicester were not noted for their discipline on or off the field during last season's campaign, which ended in their relegation from the Premiership. It must therefore come as a bit of a disappointment when one of the wise old heads they have brought on board to steady the ship walks the plank within minutes of starting his career with the club.

Leicester were not noted for their discipline on or off the field during last season's campaign, which ended in their relegation from the Premiership. It must therefore come as a bit of a disappointment when one of the wise old heads they have brought on board to steady the ship walks the plank within minutes of starting his career with the club.

Twenty-one years on from having his schoolboy heart broken when the club at the end of his street let him go, Dion Dublin made his competitive debut for the Foxes in front of a home-town crowd willing him to make the headlines. He did, but for all the wrong reasons. After 18 minutes he took a wild hack at Rufus Brevett - himself sent off for a second booking near the end - after hitting the deck under his challenge for a high ball.

The one consolation to emerge from Dublin's absence, which will extend into Leicester's next three games, was that it gave David Connolly the chance to show what a tireless solo worker he can be. Left to labour alone up front, he was, some West Ham fans might have noticed, only doing what he often did for them last season.

From a Leicester perspective, it was a successful audition for the Paul Dickov role of thorough nuisance to the opposition. "I only sold him so I could bring in other players," said Alan Pardew, the West Ham manager, who, on this evidence, must wonder whether the Hammers have got the better of the deal.

The other thing Dublin's pressing of the self-destruct button did was to give his new team-mates the chance to show an abundance of unity and resilience. With 13 players departing over the summer and 11 cheaper ones brought in - five of them in Saturday's starting line-up - they were bound to look a little like strangers at times, but showed great willingness to work for each other.

"It shows me that we've got character and we'll need that this season,'' said their manager, Micky Adams, who has admitted how severely his own character was tested by the events of last season.

The fundamentals of his team for this season look sound, particularly at the back where, even before the late introduction of Martin Keown, the combination of Matt Heath and Nikos Dabizas - a Euro 2004 winner, no less - gave nothing away.

The signs for West Ham were not quite as promising. Pardew took the decision to leave Michael Carrick at home, pending the inevitability of his transfer to Arsenal or some other suitor. "We wanted him to stay, but it doesn't look like happening and, with one year left on his contract, we have to sell him," Pardew said.

Nor was his much-vaunted new striking partnership of Teddy Sheringham and Sergei Rebrov much of an event, with Rebrov playing wide and often deep on the right to no great effect. Pardew professed himself reasonably pleased with the Ukrainian's contribution, but Tottenham supporters would have found his lack of impact rather familiar.

Instead, a subdued Sheringham was partnered for most of the match by Marlon Harewood, who showed his familiar combination of the pace to get into scoring positions and the lack of composure to make the most of them. He had the best chances to win the game for the visitors, but justice would have been better served if one of Connolly's second-half attempts had found the back of the net.

"I thought the two goalkeepers were the best players on the pitch," Pardew said. "Ian Walker is a former England goalkeeper and Stephen Bywater could be one for the future for England."

Leicester City (4-4-2): I Walker; Makin, Heath (Keown, 88), Dabizas, Wilcox (Blake, 89); Scowcroft, Williams, Nalis, Stewart; Connolly, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Pressman (gk), Gemmill, Gillespie.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Bywater; Repka, Melville, Dailly, Brevett; Rebrov (McAnuff, 73), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington; Harewood (Zamora, 72), Sheringham (Cohen, 85). Substitutes not used: J Walker (gk), Ferdinand.

Referee: M Ryan (Lancashire).

Booked: Leicester: Nalis. West Ham: Brevett.

Sent off: Leicester: Dublin (18). West Ham: Brevett (85).

Man of the match: Connolly.

Attendance: 30,231.

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