Leicester City 3 Charlton Athletic 0 – 1 March 2014

Leicester City extended their lead at the top of the Championship to thirteen points with a comfortable win over Charlton Athletic this afternoon at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes were not at their best in the first-half, but took an early lead through Jamie Vardy’s close-range finish after just nine minutes.

Leicester doubled their lead three minutes after half-time through Danny Drinkwater, after David Nugent had initially been denied from close range.

Nugent’s excellent strike after the hour mark put the game well beyond the visitors, who struggled to establish themselves in the match, while the Foxes maintained their impressive fourteen-game unbeaten run dating back to mid-December.

Other results meant that the Foxes remain eight points clear at the top of the Championship, but extend their lead over third-placed Derby County to thirteen points with just thirteen games remaining this season.

It was Leicester’s 23rd league win of the campaign, and, while Nigel Pearson’s side were never really threatened by their struggling opponents, it was further proof that this team has made huge strides, both mentally and physically, following the their end-of-season implosion less than twelve months ago.

Riyad Mahrez was the only change to the starting XI that defeated Ipswich Town at the King Power Stadium last weekend, with Lloyd Dyer out of the match-day squad though injury.

Leicester had the first clear-cut opportunity when Jamie Vardy broke through the Charlton backline following a quick one-two, but goalkeeper Ben Hamer was out in time to save with his feet, in what would be a busy day for the Charlton shot-stopper.

Leicester took the lead just moments later when David Nugent found his strike partner Vardy after good initial work from Anthony Knockaert, before the former Fleetwood Town man rounded one defender before composing himself on the edge of the six-yard box and slotted the ball past Ben Hamer.

It was a well-worked goal by the Foxes and Vardy’s third in as many games, as he continues to look more and more like a player ready for the challenges of the next tier of English football.

Anthony Knockaert’s dangerous ball into the box shortly after the restart forced Ben Hamer to parry the ball away, before Simon Church took advantage of a defensive mix-up and forced Kasper Schmeichel into making a save after Wes Morgan had allowed a long ball to bounce between himself and the goalkeeper.

At the other end, David Nugent headed over from a Riyad Mahrez cross into the box, before the one-time England international saw his shot deflected over for a corner midway a few minutes later.

Leicester were comfortable in the opening 45 minutes but were never required to move out of second gear, as the visitors struggled to find a foothold in the game.

Riyad Mahrez came close for the Foxes five minutes before half-time with a powerful strike across goal from 20 yards, while former Leicester City midfielder Astrit Ajdarević fired high and wide for Charlton in the last real action of the first-half.

Leicester quickly doubled their lead shortly after the interval when Jeffrey Schlupp’s low cross found David Nugent in front of goal, and while his shot was excellently saved by Ben Hamer, the ball fell to Danny Drinkwater who drove the ball into the net from twelve yards.

It was harsh on Hamer, who had done brilliantly to deny Nugent from point-blank range, but a goal that emphasised Leicester’s dominance in the match.

Drinkwater put Hamer to the test shortly afterwards with a fierce strike from distance, but the goalkeeper was equal to it this time as the ball was punched away, and David Nugent’s follow-up was blocked for a corner.

Leicester extended their advantage with a little over 25 minutes remaining when David Nugent picked up a pass from Jamie Vardy before bearing down on goal and rifling a shot past Ben Hamer into the far corner of the net.

It was a superb finish from Nugent for his nineteenth of the season, and a well-deserved goal on top of a good performance for the 28-year old.

The game was now well out of sight for the visitors but the Foxes continued to press for more goals, and Nugent might have had his second and Leicester’s fourth were it not for another superb stop by Ben Hamer from close range.

Anthony Knockaert’s stretched effort flew just wide of the far post with five minutes remaining, by which time it was clear that Leicester were well on course for their thirteenth home league win this season.

The final whistle confirmed this, and, with results around the league going Leicester’s way, the Foxes extended their gap between themselves and third-placed Derby County to thirteen points, as Nigel Pearson’s men continue to look more and more like a Championship-winning side bound for the Premier League.

Man of the Match – David Nugent