Stephy Mavididi

Ipswich Snatch Late Draw To Deny Leaders Leicester

Leicester City had to settle for a point at Portman Road on Boxing Day as Ipswich Town equalised in added time to snatch a 1-1 draw – preventing the Foxes from extending their six-point lead at the Sky Bet Championship summit.
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Stephy Mavididi's excellent opener put City on course for a sixth consecutive league victory in the 24th minute of Tuesday's top-of-the-table showdown in East Anglia. Three minutes into added time, however, Sam Morsy's hopeful drive deflected off Ricardo Pereira's shin and then Jannik Vestergaard's head to wrong-foot Mads Hermansen in the net and dent Leicester's relentless winter form. It was a frustrating end for Enzo Maresca's Foxes, who remain 11 points clear of third-placed Southampton and 14 ahead of Leeds United in fourth. Each side had opportunities throughout, while Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was denied a penalty midway through the second half after being knocked from his feet by Cameron Burgess inside the 18-yard box. Leicester's attentions now turn to a visit to Cardiff City on Friday (7:45pm GMT kick-off). 

One change to the XI which overcame Rotherham United before Christmas saw Conor Coady come in for James Justin, while Callum Doyle was back on the bench too. The central defender, on loan from Manchester City, has been absent since September through injury. Leicester’s first meeting with high-flying Town in nearly a decade was the Championship’s headline act on Boxing Day – pitting the division’s two top goalscorers against one another at a packed, bouncing Portman Road. 

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Stephy Mavididi

Stephy Mavididi's eighth goal of the season put the Foxes in front.

City started deploying a high-press which was offering opportunities. They were patiently prowling the midfield, ambushing their hosts after every and any loose touch on the ball. Five minutes in, Harry Winks dragged the ball back, rolling it across the edge of Ipswich’s area, where Wilfred Ndidi lay in wait, unmarked and with time. The Nigerian, though, scuffed his shot and the moment was lost. Abdul Fatawu, on the other hand, later found the ball at his feet on the right flank, drilling it into the side-netting. Mavididi’s shot was then sent behind for a corner by Luke Woolfenden, while Ndidi also nodded Dewsbury-Hall’s cross over the crossbar. It had been a promising opening for the Foxes, but there was no doubting the home side’s threats. Ipswich’s danger was evident on 11 minutes when Harry Clarke crossed for George Hirst in the middle. The former Leicester man, mind you, couldn’t make enough contact with his head to divert it towards Hermansen’s net. 

Hirst’s evening would be over shortly afterwards, pulling up off the ball and eventually having to be replaced. Leicester’s opener was next up – a moment of Christmas sparkle in the 24th minute. They’d done well to temper any early onslaught which Ipswich may have had planned for them and were in fact largely in control of the match midway through the first half. Their impressive start was rewarded when Coady’s low forward pass located in-form striker Patson Daka in the middle. The Zambian did especially well to take Burgess out of the equation, spinning on the spot and immediately sweeping the ball out to the left channel. Mavididi was there to collect the ball, galloping forwards, before curling it across the penalty box and into Václav Hladký’s far corner. A real moment of quality for Maresca’s leaders – and a deserved advantage on the night. 

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Harry Winks

Leicester carved out several opportunities especially in the first half.

Just before the half-hour, City had a chance to extend their lead. It was a direct ball through the middle which again opened the Tractor Boys up. Vestergaard floated the ball forward, spotting an enterprising, diagonal forward scamper by Dewsbury-Hall. The Academy graduate was in front of Burgess, but the centre-back shadowed him into the area, eventually sticking a leg out to take the ball from under the midfielder’s feet. Clarke also had to jump into a last-ditch challenge to stop Ndidi from applying a finish to Daka’s through-ball. The chances were coming – and were usually the result of turnovers in the centre. Leicester’s next opening saw Mavididi skid the ball through to Daka, although Hladký raced off his line to smother the shot. 

Ipswich had an encouraging spell of their own before the break, hoping to sting City in four additional minutes. Nevertheless, some brilliant foresight from Wout Faes, to poke the ball away from Burns’ grasp, allowed the Foxes to take their one-goal advantage into the interval. There was a warning two minutes into the second half, as Burgess nodded a free header wide for the Kieran McKenna’s men. Fatawu threw his body in front of Leif Davis' low drive moments later too. On 61 minutes, Conor Chaplin stole the ball from Dewsbury-Hall and instantly tried to catch Hermansen off his line from 45 yards, although the Dane was alert to the danger. Vestergaard’s block then took the power out of Davis’ hit from the edge of City’s area. The home side were starting to settle into the game, building forwards and enjoying much more possession than before.

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Kelechi Iheanacho

City have taken 16 points from a possible 18 over recent weeks.

With 20 minutes to go, Hermansen parried Chaplin’s long-range effort behind. Ipswich’s top goalscorer then launched another effort over the bar. Leicester were adamant they should have had a penalty five minutes later. Mavididi had unlocked the Ipswich backline with a perfect pass into Dewsbury-Hall, who was swept aside by Burgess, thrown to the floor before he could shoot. Referee Samuel Barrott, however, played on. A huge chance came the Tractor Boys' way in the 90th minute – with City’s defenders struggling to keep up with a free-flowing surge forwards. At the crucial moment, though, Nathan Broadhead slipped and Ricardo watched the ball bobble over the byline. Although substitute Cesare Casadei blocked Freddie Ladapo’s added-time hit in the box, Ipswich kept coming. Morsy's effort was unlikely test to Hermansen in the 93rd minute, but benefited from not one but two deflections, altering its trajectory and cruelly sending it into the back of the net. Late annoyance for Leicester, but Maresca's men still have healthy room at the top of the Championship table. 

Leicester City Crest





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