Leicester City 3 Bolton Wanderers 2 – 16 April 2013

Jeffrey Schlupp’s dramatic late winner fired Leicester City back into the top six and snapped the Foxes’ nine-game winless streak in a possible Championship playoff preview against a red-hot Bolton side.

Leicester got off to the worst possible start when Wes Morgan conceded a penalty kick in the second minute of the match for a foul on Chung-Yong Lee.

David Ngog converted from twelve yards to put Bolton ahead, but the home side fought back towards the end of the first-half and drew level through Chris Wood’s converted spot-kick after Lloyd Dyer was upended by Danny Butterfield.

Dyer gave the Foxes the lead just 90 seconds later with a thunderous strike, but Bolton pressed well in the second half and equalised with twenty minutes to go when Darren Pratley finished from close range following Sam Ricketts’ long throw-in.

But with eleven minutes remaining, Jeffrey Schlupp restored Leicester’s lead with a powerful volley from the edge of the area to give Nigel Pearson’s men their first win since the end of January.

The result lifts the Foxes back into the playoff places after a poor run of form which saw them fall from second to eighth in the Championship, and will give the players confidence ahead of travelling to fellow promotion-hopefuls Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Although the King Power Stadium was far from full, there was very much a playoff atmosphere around the ground, and nerves must have played a part in Wes Morgan’s mistimed challenge on Chung-Yong Lee inside the opening two minutes which gave Bolton a penalty and a dream start to the match.

David Ngog stepped up to convert the spot-kick despite Kasper Schmeichel diving the right way, giving Dougie Freedman’s side an early lead.

The Foxes looked rattled but did create changes in the early stages, with Lloyd Dyer hitting the side netting from a tight angle and Chris Wood firing wide from Wes Morgan’s ball into the box.

Jeffrey Schlupp then dragged a shot wide after creating some space on the edge of the penalty area, while, at the other end, Michael Keane was on hand to make a couple of important blocks with David Ngog through on goal.

Chris Wood then tested Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal with a fine free-kick from 25 yards as the Foxes began to increase the tempo.

Leicester were rewarded for their persistence five minutes before half-time when Danny Butterfield brought down Lloyd Dyer in the Bolton penalty area, with referee Eddie Ilderton pointing straight to the spot.

Chris Wood stepped up to coolly slot the ball home for his first goal in ten games and his tenth this season since signing for the Foxes in the January transfer window.

The home side had their tails up, and completed a dramatic turnaround just moments after the restart when Chris Wood’s fine hold-up play allowed Lloyd Dyer to bear down on goal from the left wing and hit a thunderous drive off the underside of the bar and into the net, sending the King Power Stadium into raptures.

It was a well-worked goal and demonstrated Leicester’s attacking capabilities; a lack of which had seen their fall from the upper echelons of the Championship over the last two months.

The hosts looked increasingly confident after the restart and came close to doubling their advantage when Chris Wood’s clever overhead kick from inside the penalty area almost dipped underneath the crossbar with Adam Bogdan stranded.

But Bolton found their attacking prowess as the second half developed and might have been level had Chris Eagles hit the target with his snapshot from the edge of the penalty area after Leicester had failed to clear their lines.

Lloyd Dyer then saw his shot deflected into the side netting after some excellent build-up play involving Chris Wood, Matty James and Anthony Knockaert, before substitute Craig Davies rattled the crossbar for the visitors with a fine strike from 25 yards.

Knockaert then fired wide from eighteen yards before Kasper Schmeichel denied Davies from close range with a fine save as the game became increasingly open at both ends of the pitch.

Bolton did draw level just moments later when Marcos Alonso’s long throw-in was flicked on towards Darren Pratley who was on hand to tap the ball home from six yards, as Leicester saw yet another lead dissipate.

But the Foxes were not done, and with eleven minutes remaining, Ritchie De Laet’s throw-in towards Chris Wood was flicked on to substitute David Nugent, and the Bolton defence could only clear as far as Jeff Schlupp on the edge of the box who fired a superb low volley into the bottom corner of the net to restore Leicester’s advantage.

It was a fine finish by Schlupp and a thoroughly deserved goal for another tireless performance by the Ghanaian international.

Bolton threw everything at Leicester in the final five minutes of normal time, but the defence held firm despite an aerial bombardment from the visitors, while Kasper Schmeichel’s acrobatic save kept out Craig Davies’ header on target.

A late injury to David Ngog saw a frantic seven minutes of stoppage time played at the end of regulation, but the Foxes held firm for a crucial three points which stopped the rot of nine games without a win.

Man of the Match – Matty James