Resurgent Robins repays Leicester recall

Ipswich Town 0 Leicester City 1
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The Independent Online
Leicester City may not be one of the Premiership's more accomplished sides, but they had enough skill and strength to survive a tricky trip to Portman Road last night and claim a place in the last four of the Coca- Cola Cup.

A spectacular goal just before half-time from Mark Robins separated the sides, leaving Ipswich to concentrate on the relative mundanity of their Nationwide League campaign.

Leicester secured more than just a two-leg semi-final against Wimbledon - whom they beat last Saturday in the Premiership - they also gained revenge. On their way to promotion via the First Division play-offs last season, they were beaten home and away by Ipswich.

Their line-up last night made it clear that they had not come to defend in depth. Robins, the former Manchester United forward who has spent much of the season on loan to FC Copenhagen, was given his first start since September alongside Steve Claridge. Emile Heskey was nominally a wing- back, but was clearly not expected to do too much defending.

After a deceptively bright start by the home side, Leicester took control. Richard Wright had to punch over a 20-yard shot from Neil Lennon as the visitors won a series of corners. Heskey was often a muscular presence in the Ipswich area as at times the home side pulled back all 11 players.

Heskey, after a neat one-two with Claridge, fired over the bar before Leicester took an overdue lead three minutes before half-time. Robins gained possession outside the area and, with the home defenders backing off, lashed the ball into the roof of the net from 25 yards past a surprised Wright.

Predictably, Ipswich were fired up after the interval, and they created more chances in the first 10 minutes of the second period than they had in the entire first half.

Jamie Scowcroft crossed well from the right and Simon Grayson had to head behind from under his bar to prevent Stephen Howe reaching the ball. Then Scowcroft set up Geraint Williams for a 20-yard drive that was too high, and Gus Uhlenbeek worried Keller with a fierce shot from even further out that was also just off target.

Ipswich shuffled their pack, bringing on Simon Milton and Richard Naylor, and the experienced Milton was soon involved. He was brought down by Grayson just outside the area, and tapped the free-kick to Paul Mason, whose shot was well-struck but wide. Naylor's first contribution was less praiseworthy: after a crude, late tackle on Grayson, he was lucky to see David Elleray produce only a yellow card. Grayson departed on a stretcher with a badly gashed calf and a damaged ankle.

Two minutes from the end Naylor had the last chance for Ipswich, but Spencer Prior's desperate block ensured a deserved victory.

"I just had a hunch with Robins," a happy Martin O'Neill, the Leicester manager, said. "I took a chance on him - he's a natural goalscorer and he's put us in the semi-finals. It was a fantastic goal."

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Uhlenbeek, Cundy, Swailes, Vaughan; Stockwell, Williams, Mason, Sonner (Milton, 72); Howe (Naylor, 72), Scowcroft. Substitute not used: Forrest (gk).

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Watts, Prior, Kamark; Grayson (Hill, 81), Izzet, Lennon, Parker, Heskey; Robins (Taylor, 69), Claridge. Substitute not used: Poole (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).

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