Leicester City 2 Birmingham City 2 – 12 April 2013

Chris Burke’s last-minute penalty-kick denied Leicester City a vital three points and the chance to move back into the playoff places ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.

The hosts took the lead in the first-half courtesy of a Curtis Davies own goal, but Birmingham fought back and drew level just after the hour mark when Nikola Zigic slotted home from close range.

Jeffrey Schlupp restored Leicester’s advantage with a powerful header which looked to be the winning goal, but David Nugent’s clumsy tackle on Wes Thomas left referee Michael Russell pointing to the penalty spot.

Substitute Chris Burke fired the penalty past the outstretched Kasper Schmeichel in the 90th minute to salvage a point for the Blues and leave the Foxes’ playoff hopes in the balance.

The Foxes go into this weekend’s fixtures one point outside the top six having played one extra game than Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Bolton, and although their playoff hopes appear to be slipping away, Nigel Pearson will have no complaints by the level of performance shown by his players on the night.

However, it was another game in which Leicester were harshly punished for a lapse in concentration towards the end of the match, and replays suggest that Nugent’s challenge on Thomas took place just outside the penalty area.

Both sides started cagily until the twelfth minute when Leicester broke on the counter attack through Chris Wood who teed up strike partner David Nugent to test Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland from distance with a powerful strike, but the England international was able to parry the ball away for a corner.

The Foxes then took the lead from Matty James’ ensuing corner kick when former Foxes’ defender Curtis Davies headed the ball into his own net under pressure from Leicester captain Wes Morgan inside his own six-yard box.

It was an unusual goal but one Leicester were happy to take, having found the net just four times in their previous eight outings, and one which gave them an important lead in the match.

The home side then began to play with a little more confidence and Jeffrey Schlupp began to trouble the Birmingham defence problems with his pace – the Ghanaian appearing in a more central role with Chris Wood drifting out to the wing.

Leicester should have doubled their lead midway through the first-half from another Matty James’ corner-kick, but Michael Keane’s close-range header sailed over the crossbar.

Andy King fired straight at Jack Butland minutes later before Kasper Schmeichel was called on to make a decent save at his near post from Nathan Redmond’s effort on goal at the other end.

Redmond then tested Schmeichel again at his near post before Shane Ferguson’s speculative overhead kick was blocked by Paul Konchesky as the visitors began to ask questions of the Foxes.

At the other end, David Nugent fired across goal from a wide position after a good period of pressure from the hosts, and Nigel Pearson’s men were good value for their 1-0 half-time lead.

Leicester had chances to extend their lead after the break when Jeffrey Schlupp broke through the Birmingham defence after a quick one-two exchange with Chris Wood, but Curtis Davies made an outstanding last-ditch challenge just as Schlupp was about to pull the trigger.

The Foxes would rue this missed opportunity when Nikola Zigic capped off a well-worked team goal with a close range finish to level the score on the hour mark from Mitch Hancox’s low ball across the six-yard box.

It was a deserved goal for the visitors who had certainly grown into the match but a nonetheless frustrating one for Nigel Pearson’s men to concede.

It seemed that Birmingham might build on this momentum swing but it was Leicester who came out swinging from the restart and the hosts were almost in front again after some fantastic work by Andy King allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to bear in on goal from the left side of the penalty area, but his thunderous strike hit the post and flew away to safety.

Michael Keane then headed wide from Matty James’ cross into the penalty area before Andy King’s scintillating ball over the Birmingham backline found Schlupp one-on-one with Butland once again, but the striker took an unnecessarily heavy touch and the chance went begging.

Ravel Morrison, who had been lively all evening for the visitors, then hit the side netting, but the Foxes’ regained the lead with fifteen minutes remaining when Jeffrey Schlupp rose highest to power home Matty James’ corner kick and send the home crowd into raptures.

It was a fine header from Schlupp who may have wasted a couple of chances earlier in the game, but made absolutely no mistake from six yards.

David Nugent saw his shot blocked with five minutes of normal time remaining before Nikola Zigic headed just wide from a corner kick as the visitors began to control possession.

Just when it seemed that Leicester were on course for their first win in nine games, David Nugent brought down substitute Wes Thomas down unfairly with referee Michael Russell pointing directly to the penalty spot.

Replays suggest that Nugent’s challenge took place outside the penalty area, but Chris Burke stepped up to take the spot kick and fire past Kasper Schmeichel to break Leicester hearts and ensure a share of the points.

The final whistle was met with a chorus of boos as the Foxes – as they did against Brighton last weekend – dropped points from a winning position, something they can ill afford to do should they want to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive.

Man of the Match – Andy King