James keeps his cool in cauldron

Leicester City 1 Manchester City 1

A hug between Kevin Keegan and Micky Adams at the final whistle was about the only gesture of conciliation on an afternoon of discord, high tension and, at times, outright hostility. It was also a statement of temporary relief from the former, for whom matters could have been decidedly worse had Paul Dickov not seen a late penalty saved by the England goalkeeper David James, an incident which spawned angry jostling between players, substitutes and coaches of both sides and is likely to lead to an FA inquiry. From the latter, it represented acknowledgement of his team's fate.

A hug between Kevin Keegan and Micky Adams at the final whistle was about the only gesture of conciliation on an afternoon of discord, high tension and, at times, outright hostility. It was also a statement of temporary relief from the former, for whom matters could have been decidedly worse had Paul Dickov not seen a late penalty saved by the England goalkeeper David James, an incident which spawned angry jostling between players, substitutes and coaches of both sides and is likely to lead to an FA inquiry. From the latter, it represented acknowledgement of his team's fate.

Mathematicians and pedants may prefer to differ, but Adams' men are condemned to the Nationwide, bar the weeping. Adams had summoned inspiration from his own contribution to the Coventry side who avoided relegation 19 years ago with three wins in the last three games. His team responded, but it was not enough. Even a similar finale would not be sufficient now. One victory from 21 games after this virtually assures that outcome.

Not that Manchester, who were marginally the better of two modest Citys on the afternoon, can boast a much superior record. The paucity of this contest came as no surprise whatsoever. Neither did the eventual outburst of temper. There were eight minutes remaining, and the score 1-1, when the visitors' Michael Tarnat felled Muzzy Izzet as he thrust into the area. Referee Andy D'Urso awarded the penalty, but Keegan's men were convinced that Izzet was guilty of handball. As they vented their protests, haranguing an assistant referee, it provoked a mêlée. Leicester's Steffen Freund, who had been substituted earlier, came back on the pitch and clashed with Keegan.

"There were a lot of passionate people out there who cared," said Keegan. "Micky Adams is a passionate manager; I think I am. A penalty's been given, and it's a bad decision. There is no doubt about that. We felt a bit aggrieved about it. We're fighting for our lives and even my most placid players were angry."

Responding to a suggestion that Freund may have confronted him in German, Keegan added: "Steffen speaks very good English, and certainly knows his swearwords. He shouldn't have gone on the pitch, and neither should I."

After the commotion had died down - and cautions had been administered to Leicester's Marcus Bent and the away side's Tarnat, Paolo Wanchope and Barton - Dickov struck the spot-kick low and hard, but within range of James, who made what proved to be a vital save. "It's still in our hands, whatever the outcome of Leeds's match [today]," Keegan observed. "We might even drag somebody else into it."

It had been a week of "soul-searching" for Keegan and his players; not, it must be said, for the first time in his managerial career. The result had been a demand from the players for extra training this past week, rather than less. On one hand it represents a welcome, positive gesture. "Sometimes the best ideas come off the shop floor," Keegan reflected before the game. Well, yes, but from another perspective, it could well suggest that the manager's authority is being undermined.

After yesterday's game, Keegan insisted that "the spirit was good", adding, "That's been questioned this week, but I don't have to answer that. The only thing missing was composure and confidence." Only? Two victories in 24 is not what even the most committed of Keegan's advocates would expect from a team who have cost the former England coach £50 million over three years.

In contrast, Leicester have displayed a camaraderie which Keegan can only envy, but frankly Adams just does not possess sufficient personnel of Premiership quality. The club's former player, now chief cheerleader, Alan Birchenall appeared before the start, clad as Sir Winston Churchill, and exhorted the crowd to rally round to make it Leicester's "finest hour and a half".

Adams's men initially responded to the crowd's urgings, with an aerial assault of James's goal. But the England goalkeeper was only tested once early on, when he clawed Les Ferdinand's header over his bar. His counterpart, Ian Walker, nearly provided an inadvertent aid to the visitors' cause when a wretched clearance found Nicolas Anelka. The goalkeeper redeemed himself with a save at the striker's feet. But it merely delayed the inevitable. In added time before the interval, Tarnat unleashed a free-kick which skimmed through a crowded goalmouth and past Walker, via a deflection off Trevor Sinclair.

With Bent on for Ferdinand, the Foxes had nothing to lose from all-out attack, but that yielded opportunities to the visitors on the break, notably when Anelka surged clear. However, his pass to Shaun Wright-Phillips was too close to Walker. The Frenchman looked, at times, as though he ought to be performing amid rather more illustrious company.

Overall, though, Keegan's men looked reasonably comfortable. Yet with 24 minutes remaining, Leicester replied. All that extra work on the training pitch this week, and the visitors allowed a hopeful clearance by Walker to bounce once and take a slight defection off Sylvain Distin. James Scowcroft soared to outleap Tarnat and send a looping header over James, who was caught off his line.

Still the agony continued for both sides as Anelka dragged a shot just wide. Then that penalty fracas. In five minutes of added time, there was still opportunity for Sun to pull the ball back for Sinclair to drive it straight at Walker. But more importantly for Keegan and his team, they did not concede a further goal. For the moment, at least, their Premiership status remains secure. And so does Keegan in his employment.

Leicester City 1 Manchester City 1
Scowcroft 66; Tarnat 45

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 31,457

THE RUN-INS

Tottenham: 25 April: v Arsenal (h); 2 May: v Aston Villa (a); 8 May: v Blackburn (h); 15 May: v Wolves (a)

Portsmouth: 25 April: v Leeds (a); 1 May: v Fulham (h); 4 May: v Arsenal (h); 8 May: v Leicester City (a); 15 May: v Middlesbrough (h)

Man City: 1 May: v Newcastle (h); 8 May: v Middlesbrough (a); 15 May: v Everton (h)

Leeds United: 25 April: v Portsmouth (h); 2 May: v Bolton (a); 8 May: v Charlton (h); 15 May: v Chelsea (a)

Leicester City: 1 May: v Charlton (a); 8 May: v Portsmouth (h); 15 May: v Arsenal (a)

Wolves: 25 April: v Birmingham (a); 1 May: v Everton (h); 9 May: v Newcastle (a); 15 May: v Tottenham (h).

News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn