A last minute penalty from Chris Burke robbed Leicester of all three points as they were held to a 2-2 npower Championship draw by Birmingham City at King Power Stadium on Friday night.
With the score at 2-1, Blues sub Wesley Thomas was upended by David Nugent on the edge of the area, giving Burke the chance to rescue a point for the visitors from the spot, which he duly accepted.
Moments earlier it looked as though Jeff Schlupp had sealed the points for City as the youngster rose highest to meet a Matty James corner and power a header past Jack Butland to give The Foxes a 2-1 advantage.
A Curtis Davies own goal from another James corner had given City a 12th minute lead in a first half that saw them create numerous chances in front of a 25,500 strong crowd, until Nikola Zigic leveled with a tap-in on the hour mark.
But despite a fantastic effort, it wasn’t to be City’s night in the end as they must now focus their attentions on a tough home tie against Bolton Wanderers next week.
Leicester City Manager Nigel Pearson made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Brighton last Saturday as Ritchie De Laet came in for Liam Moore at right back, while former Blues loan man Chris Wood replaced Ben Marshall in a front three that featured Nugent and Schlupp.
There were also two changes for the visitors, with Morgaro Gomis and Shane Ferguson coming in for Thomas and the injured Jonathan Spector in a 4-5-1 formation spearheaded by 6ft 8ins Serbian international Zigic.
It was a solid start from City, but it took until the 12th minute to really put England international ‘keeper Butland to the test, as Nugent cut inside after good work from Wood to unleash a powerful right footed effort from 25 yards that was tipped around the post.
And it was from the resulting corner that City finally got that piece of luck that seemed to have deserted them in recent weeks.
James swung the ball in from the right that was met by a stooping header from Davies under pressure from Wes Morgan, and to the delight of the home faithful it shot straight past Butland for 1-0.
The goal seemed to put the wind firmly in City’s sails and they began to cause the visitors all kinds of problems, and came very close to doubling their advantage twice through Schlupp in the 20th minute.
The youngster did brilliantly to chase down a long ball before picking up a wayward back pass to force a scrambling Butland into a good stop. Danny Drinkwater then picked up the rebound and worked it back to Schlupp to try his luck again, only to find Butland equal to the task.
Something seemed to have clicked, and minutes later Michael Keane almost gave Leicester what would have been a deserved second with a typically towering header to meet another James corner, but it whistled centimetres over the crossbar.
Chances continued to flow as the half wore on – first Andy King latched onto a Wood pass only to shoot at Butland, while at the other end the dangerous Nathan Redmond tested Kasper Schmeichel with a low left-footed drive from 20 yards, and much to City’s concern, did the same in the 28th minute, this on his right foot.
Birmingham responded with a series of chances through Davies and Paul Robison, but it was City that looked more determined as with ten minutes of the half to play Wood’s deflected shot fell into the path of a lively Nugent, but his right footed effort from a narrow angle went wide.
The final meaningful moment of the half fittingly fell to the excellent City, after Robinson felled Schlupp on the edge of the area. Wood was the man given the responsibility and he struck a powerful right-footed shot only to see his strike Zigic in the wall.
Both sides emerged from half time unchanged, and there seemed to be little change in the direction of the game either, as the first chance fell to the feet of Schlupp from Wood’s knock down, but the youngster dragged a left-footed effort wide.
City, and in particular Schlupp were beginning to pick holes in the visiting defence, but still not able to get what would be a vital second goal.
In the 54th minute an excellent interchange between Nugent and Schlupp allowed the latter in on goal, but a superb Davies block quelled the danger, while for Birmingham Wade Elliott curled a teasing effort around Schmeichel’s post.
But City were made to pay for missing those early chances on the hour mark when Zigic was able to make it 1-1 with a tap-in at the far post after right back Caddis played a one-two in the box and was able to slide a low ball across the face of goal.
The response from City was to attack, and Schlupp came agonisingly close to getting his goal when King played a nice ball over the top and he rattled the upright with a powerful left foot strike.
Again, the frustration grew for City as they ploughed men forward only to be denied at the last – this time King put Schlupp through on goal, but for a last-gasp tackle form Robinson to deny him what looked a certain goal.
Lloyd Dyer was then introduced for Drinkwater in the 68th minute as City were essentially playing with four forwards on the pitch – the substitute trying his luck from 20 yards minutes after coming on.
Finally it came, and there was no more deserving scorer on the pitch than Schlupp.
James once again was the provider as he swung an excellent ball in from the right corner, and it was met with a terrific header from Schlupp, who wheeled away in feverous celebration as City regained the lead.
Birmingham boss Clark responded by bringing on Thomas for Elliott as he looked to get the Blues back into the match.
And in the very last minute, referee Mick Russell awarded the visitors a penalty for a Nugent trip on substitute Thomas, which fellow sub Burke duly dispatched into the bottom right corner – a disappointing end to what looked like being a fantastic night for City.
City (4-3-3): Schmeichel, De Laet, Konchesky, Drinkwater (Dyer 68), Morgan (c), King, Keane, James, Schlupp, Nugent, Wood (Kane 87)
Unused subs: Marshall, Vardy, Logan, Moore, Knockaert
Goals: Davies o.g 12, Schlupp 75
Birmingham (4-5-1): Butland, Davies (c), Morrison, Gomis, Elliott (Thomas 76), Zigic, Redmond, Hancox, Caddis, Robinson, Ferguson (Burke 82)
Unused subs: Caldwell, Mullins, Lovenkrands, Doyle, Reilly
Goals: Zigic 60, Burke 90 pen
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)