Spiderman's nightmare on Filbert Street

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The Independent Online
PHIL SHAW

Leicester City 2 Bolton Wanderers 3

A calamitous home debut for Zeljko Kalac, Leicester's 6ft 7in Australian goalkeeper, allowed Bolton, last season's beaten finalists in the Coca- Cola Cup, to clinch a fourth-round trip to Norwich they hardly deserved in last night's replay.

Leicester, second in the First Division, outplayed Bolton, of the Premiership relegation zone, for long periods. On the first two occasions that Kalac gifted the visitors the lead, Mark McGhee's side equalised promptly. When he erred again with 11 minutes remaining, Sasa Curcic took advantage, and this time there was no way back.

McGhee paid an Australian record of pounds 760,000 for the self-styled "Spider". The Leicester manager wrote in the programme: "At this stage we all accept that Zeljko is going to be a little erratic. He's not the finished article yet." His words were to be borne out with a vengeance.

Leicester's ascendancy, inspired by Garry Parker, was almost embarrassing. Keith Branagan saved desperately from Mark Robins and Scott Taylor. But after 37 minutes as a virtual spectator, Kalac let David Lee's corner through his hands and John McGinlay prodded home.

Frustrated when Brian Carey's volley shook the woodwork, and again as Branagan tipped over Robins' effort from the rebound, Leicester levelled four minutes after half-time. Taylor's clever pass found Robins, who drilled a low shot past Branagan.

Bolton regained the initiative shortly after the hour. After David Lowe's pass had struck the referee, Richard Sneekes tried his luck from 25 yards. To his team-mates' horror, Kalac dived over the ball.

Iwan Roberts maintained the tit-for-tat sequence four minutes later, heading in Taylor's centre. A marvellous run by Curcic ended with Bolton's Serbian signing striking a post, but Kalac's nightmare on Filbert Street had one last, sickening twist.

When the flight of a Thompson corner deceived him, Curcic read it perfectly, charging up to score with a venomous volley. McGhee, who accepted responsibility for blooding Kalac before he was ready, maintained that his contrite giant would still emulate Shaka Hislop as a top-class keeper. "We annihilated Bolton," he added, and it was easier to believe the latter claim.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Kalac; Kamark (Grayson, 52), Carey (Joachim, 84), Hill, Whitlow; Taylor, Parker, Rolling, Lowe; Robins, Roberts. Substitute not used: Poole (gk).

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Branagan; McAmespie, Bergsson, Fairclough, Phillips; Lee, Curcic, Stubbs (Patterson 60), Sneekes, Thompson (Green ,87); McGinlay. Substitutes not used: Patterson, Paatelainen.

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

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