Five Foxes switches from Monday’s success over Brighton & Hove Albion Under-23s saw Lewis Brunt, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Kasey McAteer and Josh Eppiah all come into the side, the former trio after being involved with the first team in recent weeks. Khanya Leshabela was also in from the start following his loan spell at Sky Bet League 1 side Shrewsbury Town.
Although it was Leicester who won the reverse fixture when the sides met at LCFC Training Ground in November, the Hammers came into the game flying high at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 1 table.
It was a lightning start from City and the opener arrived on three minutes as Eppiah put pressure on West Ham captain Ajibola Alese, who was forced into playing a blind pass across his own six-yard box, with Tawanda Maswanhise waiting to pounce and turn the ball beyond Brian Kinnear via a first-time finish.
The home side’s only effort on goal in the opening stages, Pierre Ekwah’s side-footed strike, sailed well wide of the target.
That same combination of Eppiah and Maswanhise continued to cause problems for the Hammers’ backline and when Eppiah was too strong, he set up his strike partner, but this time the hosts managed to clear the danger.
McAteer then slipped Eppiah in on goal, whose flicked effort hit the post, before the offside flag went up, ending a neat move from the visitors.
Jakub Stolarczyk was called into action for the first time after 10 minutes, providing a quick, reactionary stop to prevent Emmanuel Longelo’s cross from nestling into the bottom corner after it deflected off Daley-Campbell.
Sonny Perkins headed over from Harrison Ashby’s cross soon after, as the home side tried to restore parity in the contest. And just after the half-hour mark, West Ham drew level.
Breaking on the counter-attack, Thierry Nevers played the ball into Perkins, who took aim from the edge of the penalty area and expertly found the top corner.
Mark Robson’s side threatened to hit a quick-fire second a minute later, but two terrific goal-line clearances from Oli Ewing, who managed to rebound the ball off the crossbar, and then Bayli Spencer-Adams, who slid in to block, prevented that becoming a reality.
Ekwah then blasted well over, but it was a sign of the confidence and belief evident in the league leaders as the half drew to a conclusion.
Leicester came out for the second half with renewed energy, however, and had two golden opportunities to regain their lead. Daley-Campbell got to the byline and picked out Maswanhise in the middle, but the forward could not double his tally as Kinnear saved with his feet.
Eppiah soon found himself through on goal, hitting the side-netting with his low, left-footed attempt, and his strong forward running almost paid dividends yet again minutes later, though a carbon-copy finish struck the wrong side of the net.
Stolarczyk parried away Armstrong Oko-Flex effort at the other end, but it was City doing most of the pressing, with Nelson heading high and wide from Ewing’s free-kick, before the midfielder took aim himself from distance, missing the target.
Both Sammy Braybrooke and Will Alves were both introduced into the action on 66 minutes and Alves was able to test Kinnear shortly after.
The lively Oko-Flex was looking to find West Ham’s own route to goal and when he played in Perkins, it was up to Stolarczyk to make a smart low stop.
Meanwhile, Ewing’s latest free-kick was held by the West Ham shot-stopper, before another Ewing delivery, this time from a corner, picked out Brunt who kept Kinnear on his toes.
Leicester thought they had grabbed that elusive second goal when Spencer-Adams headed in another Ewing free-kick, but the defender was adjudged to be offside when the ball was played.
The away side would finally find the breakthrough in the 89th minute. The ball landed at Ewing’s feet and he had the vision to pick out Marcal-Madivadua, sending him racing towards goal. Composing himself, the midfielder slotted a neat finish beyond the ‘keeper and sparked jubilant scenes at the corner flag.
Bayli Spencer-Adams thought he had netted for the Foxes shortly before the winner arrived.
It looked as if City’s youngsters would not get the three points that their performance deserved, but for the second time in as many games, Wanya Marcal-Madivadua came up with the goods in the final minute to snatch a late win for the Foxes.
Jakub Stolarczyk made some crucial stops for the Foxes.
Forward Josh Eppiah returned to the side after an injury setback and looked sharp, connecting well with strike partner Tawanda Maswanhise, which ultimately led to the opening goal. He will hope to build up his fitness further after playing over an hour of this contest.
Where do we stand?
Vontae Daley-Campbell gets a crucial block in to deny Emmanuel Longelo.
Leicester’s youngsters move up a place to ninth in the PL2 standings, on 22 points from 16 matches after back-to-back wins. They are level on points with eighth-place Liverpool, despite the Reds having played a game more.
Lewis Brunt came back into the Development Squad XI after making his senior debut earlier this month.
After a week without a fixture, City’s youngsters travel to Southport to face Everton Under-23s in Premier League 2 Division 1 on Sunday 6 February (1pm kick-off).
City: Stolarczyk, B. Nelson, Brunt, Spencer-Adams; Daley-Campbell (C), Ewing, McAteer; Marcal-Madivadua, Leshabela (Braybrooke 66’); Maswanhise (Flynn 90’), Eppiah (Alves 66’).
Subs not used: Young, Suengchitthawon.
Goals: Maswanhise 3’, Marcal-Madivadua 89’.
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