A stunning late goal from Danny Drinkwater gave Leicester City a narrow win away at Walsall on Wednesday night as the Foxes got another useful pre-season workout under their belts.
In an impressive opening 45 minutes, skipper Wes Morgan headed home a Marc Albrighton cross to give City a lead, which David Nugent doubled midway through the half from a sublime finish with the outside of his right boot.
A defensive mix up then allowed a Walsall trialist to pull one back on the stroke of half time, before the same player set up Ashley Grimes for the equaliser from close range shortly after the break.
It was the Foxes who had the better chances to win it however, but they left it until the 87th minute, when Drinkwater arrowed a stunning 25-yard effort into the top corner on his right foot.
Nugent and Chris Wood led the line for the Foxes in a 4-4-2 formation that also saw youngster Tom Hopper in the unfamiliar surroundings of centre half, alongside skipper Morgan.
It was a steady start to the match from City, who had plenty of joy with Albrighton down the right hand side, and it was that pressure that eventually told in just the seventh minute, when the former Aston Villa man’s corner was bundled home by Morgan from six yards.
The Foxes continued to enjoy the majority of possession, but there was life in the opposition, who should have drawn level when Grimes dragged a 20-yard shot wide with the goal gaping after a scuffed clearance.
Leicester’s quality shone through before long though, with a moment of individual brilliance from Nugent that made it 2-0. King played it into Wood, but the ball wriggled loose to an unmarked Nugent about 25 yards out on the right.
He managed to produce a sensational finish with the outside of his right boot that nestled perfectly into the top corner, leaving O’Donnell grasping at thin air.
City stroked the ball around impressively in their opponent’s half and went close from a couple of set pieces, but just on the stroke of half time, Walsall’s trialist striker halved the deficit. He nipped in to get to Paul Koncheksy’s headed back pass before the goalkeeper and firing home.
It was a lively start to the second half from both teams, but ultimately it was the home side that managed to start the better as they made it 2-2.
Shortly after City’s Albrighton saw a free kick loop over, Walsall attacked swiftly down the left, with their goal-scoring trialist getting into a great crossing position and picking our Grimes, who drilled the ball low and hard into the corner.
City did almost muster an immediate response when Mahrez’s long-range effort caused the goalkeeper to fumble while King brought a decent save out of him shortly afterwards, but the home side were growing in confidence.
Wholesale changes followed around the hour mark, with substitute Ritchie De Laet going within an inch of picking out fellow sub Jamie Vardy at the far post.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher also put into another impressive pre-season shift as he showed great composure to set up Vardy for a shot from a narrow angle on his left, which ballooned over the bar.
Both sides pushed for a winner, and it was City who made the decisive and final breakthrough with just three minutes left on the clock when Drinkwater pulled the trigger on a brilliant right-footed effort from 25 yards that arrowed into the top corner.
WALSALL: O’Donnell, Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, A. Chambers (c), Sawyers, Baxendale, Benning, J. Chambers, Grimes, A. Trialist
SUBS: Holden, Bradshaw, Jezeph, Morris, Heath, Bakayoko, Kinsella, Roberts, Henry, B. Trialist
GOAL: A. Trialist 45, Grimes 49
CITY: Hamer, Konchesky (Schlupp 68), Morgan (c) (Wasilewski 61), Pearson (De Laet 61), Hammond (James 68), King (Drinkwater 68), Albrighton (Knockaert 61), Hopper (Moore 61), Mahrez (Taylor-Fletcher 61), Nugent (Ulloa 68), Wood (Vardy 58)
SUBS NOT USED: Smith
GOALS: Morgan 7, Nugent 26, Drinkwater 87
REFEREE: Mr. S. Martin
ATTENDANCE: 2,119 (664 away)