Peltier header gets flying Foxes off the ground
Coventry City 0 Leicester City 1
Sunday 07 August 2011
Not without a setback and blemish or two, Leicester City's widely anticipated challenge for promotion got safely up and running at the Ricoh.
They deservedly secured East Midlands derby bragging rights and maximum points thanks to a goal from one of the 10 close-season signings that have made the former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's recruiting one of the football stories of the summer.
Right-back Lee Peltier was hardly the most acclaimed capture since leaving Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed fee but it was he who struck on 52 minutes after a first half that saw Darius Vassell and then the home side's Carl Baker sent off.
Right in front of 6,000 visiting fans, the 24-year-old Peltier ended Coventry's run of five successive opening-day victories by expertly heading Richie Wellens' free-kick from the right down and wide of the goalkeeper Joe Murphy.
The goal that ended a run of five draws between the clubs came during Leicester's only real spell of supremacy, though for half an hour or so when it became 10 against 10, theywere substantially in control.
But Eriksson must have wondered where a breakthrough might come from after Vassell (pictured), with the campaign all of 11 minutes old, lunged dangerously into a studs-up and possibly two-footed tackle on Richard Keogh on the halfway line. The colour of the subsequent card was inevitable.
Much more contentious was the decision of referee Darren Deadman to mete out the same punishment for Baker's robust challenge from behind on Wellens six minutes before half-time. The sight of Kasper Schmeichel rushing from his area to the left-back position to demand retribution was unedifying, but it has to be said that the recklessness of Baker made it easy for the official to even things up.
"If the referee shows the red card to Darius, he has to show the red card to the Coventry player, too," Eriksson said. "But I am not sure. I haven't seen it again.
"I was delighted with the way we defended as a team. That was our problem last season and we are much more solid than we were. A derby away, part of the game 10 versus 11 ... we must be very happy."
Only when a man to the good did Coventry do more than flicker. They are the paupers to the Thai princes that reside at the other end of the M69 and this promises to be a difficult season for them.
While their opponents have doubled the transfer market outlay of any other Championship club, Coventry have lost much more than they have brought in. The gulf was not always apparent here but the home fans must have departed fearing that a chasm may emerge in coming months.
The 17-year-old Burundi-born Gael Bigirimana made a promising debut in midfield and another Academy product, the 18-year-old Cyrus Christie, can be satisfied enough with his first senior start. Beyond the club's new captain Sammy Clingan, though, there was little else to encourage fans.
Until Lukas Jutkiewicz's angled shot on the run brought a comfortable save on the hour, all of Coventry's goal attempts came from long distance. The best of them, by David Bell, found Schmeichel well placed to tip over.
Leicester's chances were much clearer, Murphy being left as motionless as the Ricoh Arena's newly unveiled statue of Jimmy Hill when, just before half-time, David Nugent headed Neil Danns' centre against the inside of the post, along the line and luckily into the goalkeeper's hands.
Nugent later hooked a shot wide and the substitute Andy King finished wastefully by steering off target after going past three players, the excellence of Gelson Fernandes and Wellens in midfield having tipped the balance Leicester's way.
Coventry threatened at the end but their manager, Andy Thorn, said: "When your squad is as small as ours, you have to take any advantage that comes your way. We were unprofessional and have to learn to ram home an advantage."
It took Leicester six games to win a League match last season. This time round Foxes fans expect a lot more from their team.
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