Report: Leicester City 1 Everton 0
- Wes Morgan and Liam Moore play 90 minutes
- New signing Leo Ulloa among 18 players to play 45 minutes
- Match successfully marks 25th anniversary of King Power International
A second-half goal from Gary Taylor-Fletcher gave Leicester City a morale-boosting pre-season victory over Barclays Premier League rivals Everton in Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium.
On tour in the Thai capital to mark the 25th anniversary of the Club’s parent company, King Power International, Nigel Pearson’s Foxes put on an excellent display for fans in Thailand’s national stadium, while striking a potential psychological blow over their first opponents of the new season.
Primarily serving as a workout in preparation for City’s first top Premier League season in 10 years, there was match time given to all bar one of Pearson’s 21-man travelling party, while captain Wes Morgan and defender Liam Moore even felt the benefit of a full 90 minutes. But they will undoubtedly take confidence from a very impressive performance against an Everton side filled with top flight experience, albeit missing some of its experienced internationals.
The sense of occasion inside the Supachalasai Stadium was evident before kick-off, with Thai supporters flocking to their seats early for a glimpse of the players warming up and brought to their feet when both sides sent a string of promotional footballs soaring into the stands.
Such festivities were always likely on an occasion to mark a significant anniversary for a company that has put so much back into the Thai community in the last 25 years. That both players bought into it the celebration with such pleasure only added to a fantastic atmosphere.
As expected, Pearson handed a first appearance to his latest recruit Leo Ulloa, who led the line from the start alongside last season’s leading scorer David Nugent. There was also a starting berth for new boy Marc Albrighton.
While without some of their World Cup stars, Everton boss Roberto Martinez still fielded considerable strength. Captained by Leon Osman, the Toffees had Aiden McGeady, Gareth Barry and Steven Pienaar in from the start, with England sensation Ross Barkley waiting in the wings among the substitutes.
The oppressive humidity of the early Bangkok evening did little to dampen the early tempo as both sides came out with positive intent. Barry blasted over from range while Anthony Knockaert’s footwork left James McCarthy red-faced in the middle of the park.
Everton fashioned the first decent opening on 22 minutes – Pienaar turning and injecting a yard of pace through the heart of midfield before sliding the ball right for Osman, who was denied by the imposing frame of Kasper Schmeichel.
It wasn’t long before the Dane was called into action once more, this time denying Barry from a Luke Garbutt free kick, although the assistant’s flag would have reprieved any chink in the City ‘keeper’s armour. City’s work-rate in the conditions was impressive and they made progress on both flanks – Nugent benefiting from one Knockaert raid down the left before dragging his shot wide.
Nugent thought he had given his side the lead on 37 minutes when he showed terrific technique to spear a first-time volley past Joel Robles from Matty James’ lofted pass, but the assistant’s flag denied him a truly memorable opener.
In only the second game of pre-season, wholesale changes were to be expected at the break. City made nine and one of them, Jamie Vardy, thrust himself immediately into the action.
Released by Andy King’s pass out of defence, the speedy forward raced past John Stones on 53 minutes and only a last-ditch challenge from the England defender prevented Vardy getting a clean shot away.
The chances were beginning to materialise and it was Taylor-Fletcher who engineered the next one on 56 – feeding cutely into the right side of the box to find King, whose shot was beaten away by Robles.
The opener was coming, though, and it was Taylor-Fletcher that duly delivered it on 66 minutes. Vardy deserved plenty of the credit, beating the hesitant Robles to Riyad Mahrez’s ball in behind, before showing composure to pick out the arriving Taylor-Fletcher with a low centre from the right.
The goal seemed to give the Foxes added belief and they began to threaten Everton’s second-half back three with greater frequency. Vardy, a constant menace with his pace and endeavour, buzzed around from the left, Chris Wood caused physical problems through the centre and Taylor-Fletcher lurked dangerously from deep.
Mahrez failed to get sufficient bend on his left-foot drive to double the lead on 78 minutes, but the Algerian international looked in good shape for his first pre-season outing, showing no signs of fatigue despite a summer break reduced in length by World Cup involvement.
The changes appeared to leave Everton a little more disjointed than City and a young Toffees side struggled to impose themselves the longer the second half went on.
Ben Hamer, on at the break for Schmeichel, was barely troubled. One suspects Martinez’s side will have plenty in reserve come the opening day of the season, but City could well argue the same with the two sides’ meeting at King Power Stadium still three weeks away.
But the Foxes will fly home with a trophy from their trip to Thailand.
City First Half (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (c), Moore, Konchesky; Knockaert, Drinkwater, James, Albrighton; Ulloa, Nugent.
City Second Half (4-2-3-1): Hamer; Moore, Morgan (c), Wasilewski, Schlupp; Hammond, King; Mahrez, Taylor-Fletcher, Vardy; Wood.
Everton First Half (4-2-3-1): Robles; Hibbert, Duffy, Distin, Garbutt; McCarthy, Barry; McGeady, Osman (c), Pienaar; Naismith.
Everton Second Half (3-4-3): Robles; Stones, Alcaraz, Distin (Lundstram 77); Browning, McCarthy (Kennedy 87), Gibson, Hibbert; Naismith (Hope 77), McAleny, Long.
Unused subs: Barkley.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
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