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Clayton lifts Leeds as Foxes close in on return of Pearson

Leicester City 0 Leeds United 1

That old saying about never going back probably does not apply when the finances on offer at Leicester are concerned and Nigel Pearson seems increasingly certain to return to the East Midlands.

Pearson, the Hull manager, has emerged as the leading contender to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson and talks are expected to continue this week as the Championship side bid to tempt the 48-year-old into a second spell in charge.

While Martin O'Neill may may have declined the opportunity to make his return here, it is looking increasingly likely that Pearson will accept, and he could force the issue by demanding to speak to Leicester, after an initial approach was rebuffed by Hull.

Whoever does get the job faces a substantial task fulfilling the vast expectations of the club's owners, who have made no secret of their intent to reach the Premier League.

Leicester's expensively assembled squad suffered another bout of stagefright here, and their sixth defeat of the season, after Adam Clayton, the Leeds midfield player, ensured a memorable afternoon for his manager.

Simon Grayson was condemned to arguably his lowest moment on Wednesday after the 5-0 home defeat to Blackpool but this was the ideal response. "Nine times out of 10 after bad defeats we tend to respond and we've done that here," he said.

"To come here and win after what happened on Wednesday night showed a lot of character and spirit. The dressing room was sombre after Blackpool but it's buzzing in there after this. We win and lose as a group. I think we're doing OK and like every team in the division we want to get better."

Leeds were clearly determined to erase the bitter memories of their Elland Road nightmare and frustrated the hosts in a lifeless first-half. Paul Gallagher had a chance to put Leicester ahead 11 minutes before half-time when he found space on the edge of the box but his shot was always rising above the bar.

The home side were improved in the second period and Neil Danns flicked a close-range effort on to the roof of the net before defender Lee Peltier blazed wildly wide.

Leeds were dangerous on the counter-attack, though, and Ross McCormack agonisingly failed to connect properly with Paul Connolly's cross. But their steady pressure paid off 21 minutes from time with Clayton's brilliant strike from 35 yards.

Mike Stowell, the Leicester caretaker manager, said: "We knew they would be smarting after the midweek defeat and the best bit of quality won the game." PA

Leicester City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Peltier, Mills, Bamba, Konchesky; Danns (Johnson, 74 ), King, Wellens, Gallagher (Schlupp, 85); Howard (Beckford,74), Nugent. Substitutes not used St Ledger, Weale. Booked Wellens (gk), Konchesky, Bamba.

Leeds United (4-4-2): McCarthy; Connolly, O'Brien (Bromby, 73), Kisnorbo, White, Snodgrass, Clayton, Howson, Pugh; Keogh (Becchio, 77), McCormack (Brown, 86). Substitutes not used Sam, Cairns (gk). Booked Connolly.

Referee O Langford (West Midlands).