Jamie Vardy

Remembering When City Got Off The Mark En Route To Promotion

Seven years ago today, Leicester City's 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium was the first act of the Club's 2013/14 Sky Bet Championship-winning campaign under Nigel Pearson.
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The Foxes were still licking their wounds following a damaging play-off semi-final defeat by Watford at Vicarage Road in May 2013, with Troy Deeney scoring a last-minute winner in Hertfordshire.

Pearson's summer business in the transfer market was modest with only Zoumana Bakayogo and Dean Hammond having joined the Club by the time they travelled north on the opening day.

City had been firm favourites for promotion throughout the preceding campaign, but a run of just three wins in 17 games at the end of the season saw them lucky to reach the play-offs.

Their manager, though, retained faith in the quality of his squad and believed the disappointment of their loss at Watford could spur them on to finish the job a year later.

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Dean Hammond
Dean Hammond

The summer capture of Dean Hammond from Southampton was one of just two signings before the season started.

While Pearson was eventually proved right, the Blue Army would have been forgiven for approaching the 2013/14 with scepticism considering the ever-increasing quality of the second tier.

Leicester's starting XI on 3 August, 2013 was: Schmeichel; de Laet, St Ledger, Morgan, Whitbread, Konchesky; James, King, Drinkwater; Wood, Vardy.

Jamie Vardy, signed from Non-League side Fleetwood Town a year earlier, had struggled at a higher level during his maiden season at the Club, netting just four goals for the Foxes.

However, Pearson was absolutely sure he'd signed a striker capable of leading the line as City launched another bid for promotion, preferring him over the more experienced David Nugent.

The travelling Foxes faithful, though, saw their side go behind to Tony Mowbray's Boro in the 35th minute as Lukas Jutkiewicz forced Sean St Ledger into an unfortunate own goal.

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Liam Moore
Liam Moore

Liam Moore leads the celebrations following Danny Drinkwater's equaliser at Boro.

Sat in the away end, the visiting fans may have allowed their minds to wander back to Watford in May, or the lack of major transfer business, as they contemplated their side's fortunes in 2013/14.

Another 15 minutes passed after the interval, with City still trailing, but when a loose ball fell to Danny Drinkwater, the Manchester United youth graduate powered a fierce 20-yard drive past Jason Steele.

Optimism suddenly flowed through the Leicester line-up and they pushed for a winner - which would be the perfect reply to their detractors, many of whom believed promotion was beyond them.

Boro struggled to exert the same dominance they had previously enjoyed and, when substitute Nugent slotted a tidy ball forwards for Vardy, City's No.9 did the rest, chipping Steele to make it 2-1.

We scored two very good goals, could have had a few more and possibly should have had a penalty. We were well worth the win, although it looked a bit precarious at half-time.

Nigel Pearson

The home goalkeeper was there to deny Nugent and Vardy from stretching Leicester's lead further late on as the Foxes finished with a flurry of chances on the North East. This was more like it from City.

Speaking afterwards, Pearson conceded that his side had started slowly at Riverside Stadium, but pointed to the increased chance creation in the latter moments on day one in Championship.

"In the first half we didn't work hard enough, we didn't make enough positive decisions and we let Middlesbrough shape the game," the Foxes manager told the media at full-time.

"But in the second half we made a few more positive decisions, worked harder and got our reward. We scored two very good goals, could have had a few more and possibly should have had a penalty.

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Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

Full-time congratulations between David Nugent and Kasper Schmeichel after the first of 31 wins for the Foxes.

"We were well worth the win, although it looked a bit precarious at half-time."

Leicester would go on to suffer just six league defeats all season, winning 31 of the others, as they roared to the Club's seventh second tier title and promotion back to the Premier League.

Vardy, meanwhile, found the net on another 15 occasions, eventually forging a formidable partnership with Nugent, who scored 20 goals of his own in the league, as City finished on 102 points. 

After 10 years away, the Club was finally back in the Premier League as a frankly ridiculous - and glorious - period in Leicester's history was only just getting started.

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Drinkwater & Vardy Seal Opening Day Success At Boro

Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy found the net as Leicester City began the 2013/14 Championship season with victory at Middlesbrough.

Leicester City Crest

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