Ferdinand firepower not enough to rescue Foxes

Charlton Athletic 2 Leicester City 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Leicester City dropped to the floor of the Premiership yesterday, and through it, as they were relegated from the top flight for the second time in three years. Micky Adams' men came to south-east London knowing that only a win would keep their survival hopes alive, but their draw with Charlton Athletic, coupled with Manchester City's win against Newcastle United, condemned the Midlands club to the First Division.

Leicester City dropped to the floor of the Premiership yesterday, and through it, as they were relegated from the top flight for the second time in three years. Micky Adams' men came to south-east London knowing that only a win would keep their survival hopes alive, but their draw with Charlton Athletic, coupled with Manchester City's win against Newcastle United, condemned the Midlands club to the First Division.

Adams was understandably disappointed. "We've just not been quite good enough," was his candid assessment of a season that has seen Leicester suffer both on and off the field. "It's going to take a massive rebuilding job now."

Adams was all the more upset because his side had taken a fifth-minute lead. Marcus Bent collected the ball a few yards outside the Charlton area with his back to goal, played a neat one-two with Muzzy Izzet and then unleashed a curling shot with the outside of his right foot. His 25-yard effort was so sweetly struck that the Charlton goalkeeper, Dean Kiely, had no chance.

Leicester decided to protect their all-important lead, while Charlton seemed so stunned they were unable to create any meaningful chances of their own. In fact, Leicester should have gone two up when Steffen Freund inadvertently played a terrific one-two off the Charlton centre-back Jonathan Fortune inside the box, but then shot too close to Kiely.

At least Freund can point to the fact that he is a defensive midfielder. The Charlton striker Jonatan Johansson had no such excuse as he ran on to Jason Euell's perfect through-ball minutes before half-time, but failed to find the net when he had only the Leicester goalkeeper, Ian Walker, to beat. No wonder The Valley grumbled.

It came as no surprise when the Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, removed the ineffectual Paul Konchesky at the break and gave Jerome Thomas his first-team debut on the left of midfield. "We were trying hard," he said, "but often lacked that little bit of creativity and composure." The substitution and a few choice words had the desired effect, as the home side found an equaliser eight minutes into the second half. Paolo Di Canio, who was superb after the break, delivered an excellent corner which Fortune, who found himself unmarked at the far post, headed home.

The day was starting to take a turn for the worse and, minutes later, Leicester put one foot in the Nationwide as news seeped through that Manchester City were beating Newcastle 1-0. Desperate times called for desperate measures, as Adams introduced Les Ferdinand with 18 minutes left. The visitors were now operating in a 4-2-4 formation, but could not break down the re-invigorated Charlton defence.

Leicester have not been good enough this season, but yesterday they were not helped by the poor refereeing of Mr Styles, who wrongly adjudged that Nikos Dabizas had fouled Johansson inside the area 12 minutes from time and then sent the Greek defender off. "It's not a penalty," Adams said, "and it wasn't a sending off. I'm bitterly disappointed with the referee." Di Canio applied the coup de grâce with his well-taken spot-kick.

Ferdinand fired in an unstoppable 20-yard free-kick two minutes before the final whistle, but that stunning strike is already an irrelevance. Leicester are down and out.

Charlton Athletic 2
Fortune 53, Di Canio pen 76

Leicester City 2
Bent 5, Ferdinand 88

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 26,034

Comments