Leeds United 0 Leicester City 1 match report: Kevin Phillips makes his presence felt as leaders Leicester turn the screw

Leeds improved to restore some pride from last week's 6-0 drubbing at Sheffield but Nugent's 87th minute strike gives Leicester a sixth straight win

Elland Road

That Leicester City left Elland Road with all three points may have been remarkable, after a first half in which they should have been at least three goals behind, but it was hardly inexplicable.

While Ross McCormack, Luke Varney and Tom Lees all failed to take glorious chances for Leeds, the reliable David Nugent made the most of his sole opportunity of the game to seal the Championship leaders’ sixth successive victory.

The fact that Nugent’s 17th goal of the season, his fifth in four games, was created by a dummy from Kevin Phillips escaped neither manager. The 40-year-old, signed by City boss Nigel Pearson on Wednesday after the striker had been released by Crystal Palace, had only been on the field for 10 minutes when he stepped over a low cross from Liam Moore’s, giving Nugent the fraction of a second he needed to touch the ball past Lees and then poke it past Paddy Kenny.

“For someone of Kevin’s age to be able to get into the game as quickly as he did is testament to how he’s looked after himself and to his hunger and desire – there aren’t too many players of his ilk,” said Pearson.

Moments before Phillips’ clever non-intervention, he had set up City’s best chance of the second half for Andy King. “It’s nice to have options and he certainly gives us another. I’m hoping – well, I know – that we’ll get a lot of positive contributions from him, on the field and off it in terms of the example he sets, how hard he trains.”

For Brian McDermott, pleasure in the response shown by his players after last week’s 6-0 at Sheffield Wednesday was understandably tempered by the result. The Leeds manager was of the opinion that Nugent should not have been on the pitch at all, after he claimed he had kicked out at Leeds defender Jason Pearce, but acknowledged Leicester’s resilience and strength of character.

“The most important thing was to restore pride in the shirt, and the players did that. The shape and organisation was good and we never looked like losing,” said McDermott. “But then you have Nugent, and Phillips came on, and there is that bit of quality which made the difference.”

Attempting to avoid a fifth successive defeat, McDermott gave home debuts to two recent signings of his own in Jimmy Kébé and Cameron Stewart, and the two wingers certainly gave his side a better shape.

More to the point however, Leeds ripped into their opponents from the start, harrying and tackling with a ferocity which would have pleased their combative former midfielder Bobby Collins, whose death last week was marked by a minute’s applause before the game started. Leicester, finding themselves on the back foot, lost their composure and began giving the ball away.

United should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Varney, having picked up Moore’s poor clearance, crossed to McCormack unmarked in the centre of goal on the six yard line. With only City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to beat, to head against the post was a miss of almost criminal proportions.

McCormack was still shaking his head when Ritchie De Laet’s pass saw Jamie Vardy running clear between the Leeds centre-backs. From the right side of the penalty area Vardy drove against the outside of the far post.

It was pretty much the Foxes’ only opportunity during a half in which they appeared more intent on creating chances for their opponents. Schmeichel’s poor punch saw McCormack lob the ball back over him only for Matty James to head clear off the line, before Paul Konchesky’s appalling back-pass left the Leeds striker with only the goalkeeper to beat. A weak attempted chip allowed Schmeichel – formerly of Leeds – to make a save.

The chances kept coming for Leeds, but after Lees, no more than three yards from goal, had headed over instead of under Schmeichel’s bar, the pace understandably began to drop.

That Pearson had suggested to his players it would help if they matched Leeds’ aggression was evident when Anthony Knockaert and Wes Morgan were booked early in the second half. Even so, Stephen Warnock shot straight at Schmeichel and Moore’s dilatory distribution almost left Varney one on one with the Leicester goalkeeper.

Gradually, however, the game became more even in terms of possession and the chances had dried up completely by the time Pearson brought on Phillips.

“You could argue we were a bit fortunate, but from our perspective we showed different qualities,” argued Pearson.

“We did make errors, but showed that little bit of quality when we needed it to get the win. You need to be able to win in different ways.”

McDermott called for the takeover of his club by the consortium Sport Capital to be concluded as soon as possible.

“The people coming in are spot-on, the only thing they are thinking of is the good of Leeds United,” he said.

Leeds Utd (4-4-2): Kenny; Byram, Lees, Pearce, Warnock; Kébé (Peltier, 86), Brown, Austin Stewart; Varney (Diouf, 85), McCormack.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet (Wasilweski, 63), Morgan, Moore, Konchesky; Knockaert, James, Drinkwater, Dyer (King, 79): Vardy (Phillips, 75), Nugent.

Referee: Mike Dean.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower