Looking to the future

The January transfer window has not exactly brought about a plethora of activity to the King Power Stadium.  Nigel Pearson has previously indicated that he prefers to complete any business well before the deadline.  That being said, it won’t have come as a huge surprise to Foxes fans that the signings of Kevin Phillips and Riyad Mahrez are both done and dusted early into the calendar year.  While these two players may not have stirred more than a quiet excitement around the club compared with other teams in this division, these two signings tell us a lot about Nigel Pearson’s plans for the rest of the season.

The signing of Kevin Phillips might have been one of the worst-kept secrets in recent years.  However, the 40-year old striker brings a wealth of experience to the King Power Stadium.  He also has a proven track record of scoring goals, and, regardless of his age, he poses a problem for defenders.  He made an instant impact in his first appearance for the Foxes against Leeds United, and his dummy on the edge of the penalty area was the catalyst for David Nugent’s 88th-minute winner at Elland Road, during a game in which Leicester City were far from at their best.  Phillips has experienced promotion to the Championship with four separate sides, and Foxes fans will be hoping that he can make it five at the beginning of May.

The signing of Kevin Phillips demonstrates that Nigel Pearson has thought about Leicester’s torrid run of form this time last year, which saw the Foxes slip out of automatic promotion contention and almost miss out on the playoffs despite holding a comfortable position near the top of the Championship at the end of January 2013.  It means that Pearson has also considered that, despite the Foxes’ league-best current form, there will be games where perhaps Nugent or Vardy are unable to find that breakthrough goal; given that Leicester have faced every side in the league this season, opposing sides may travel to the King Power Stadium with the game plan of frustrating Nigel Pearson’s men, as was often the case during the League One campaign.  It also gives Leicester fans a mental boost, knowing that he is an option whether Leicester are winning 3-0 or losing 2-1 with fifteen minutes remaining.  A player like Kevin Phillips always possesses a threat, and he has the ability to change a game.  And, in addition, while he may not be one for the future in terms of his own playing career, he is certainly a great person for younger strikers like Jamie Vardy, Chris Wood and Jeffrey Schlupp to learn from in their development.

Leicester’s only other incoming player during this transfer window so far is Riyad Mahrez, a 22-year old French-Algerian winger who transferred from a French Ligue 2 side.  Mahrez made his debut for the Foxes last weekend as a substitute in a 2-0 win against Middlesbrough, and, after just eleven minutes of playing time, fans already seem hugely excited to find out exactly what he is capable of.

This Leicester City squad is well-balanced; some may call it traditional – a 4-4-2 line up, speed on the wings with full-backs capable of pushing forward, strong central defenders and two strikers who are starting to forge an effective partnership in front of goal.  However, if Lloyd Dyer or Anthony Knockaert were to pick up an injury, it would prevent Nigel Pearson from utilising this preferred formation and line-up to its desired effect. Pearson would have the option of switching to a 4-3-3, or possibly playing Jamie Vardy out wide, but Vardy has been so effective in front of goal that to play him out of position could have an adverse effect.  The addition of Mahrez provides cover – and depth – on the wings.  It also prevents a negative knock-on effect from potential injury or dip in form.  Dyer and Knockaert have both been excellent this season; Dyer, in particular, has surpassed expectation, while Knockaert is learning a more disciplined game – in the sense that what he doesn’t do is equally as important as what he does do.  Foxes fans will be incredibly excited to see Mahrez and Knockaert on either flank.  Opposing full-backs may not be relishing this opportunity.

While Leicester City have been eliminated from both cup tournaments this season, it might actually be a blessing in disguise as it allows them to give their entire focus to achieving promotion to the Premier League.  There are five Championship teams who still have an extra FA cup game to play (Nottingham Forest may have to play two more, if they are successful against Preston in a week’s time).  Leicester were one of only two teams to pick up three points in the Championship last weekend, which allowed them to open up an eight-point cushion at the top of the league.  The pressure is now on QPR and Burnley to keep pace.  That being said, fans will know it is too early to pop open the champagne.  This season has been hugely successful so far, but in the back of Pearson’s mind will be last season’s collapse.  It is his job to ensure that the players stay focused on the job at hand.  Phillips and Mahrez offer just a little something different in terms of options during the business end of this season.

An assessment of Leicester City so far this season – part two

23 games into the 2013/14 Championship campaign is as good a time as any to reflect on Leicester City’s season so far.  The Foxes have now faced every opponent in the division, and while tough fixtures certainly await Nigel Pearson’s men in 2014, it is fair to say that Leicester are where they are in the league – first – on merit.

Since the October international break, Leicester City have played twelve league fixtures.  They have won eight, drawn one, and lost three, picking up 25 points along the way.  As such, the Foxes are the only side in the Championship to average more than two points per game (2.1) throughout the first half of the season.  Impressively, Nigel Pearson’s side have only once fallen below a return of two points per game, which occurred after Leicester’s draw with at-the-time table-toppers Burnley.  Leicester also broke their December curse by winning three consecutive games to close out the calendar year – the Foxes had only won three games out of nineteen in December from 2009-2012 before that.

While the Foxes suffered back-to-back defeats in the league for the first time this season during this run of twelve fixtures, they also recorded three consecutive wins on two separate occasions.  This demonstrates an ability to bounce back from disappointing results, something that plagued Leicester during the final third of the 2012/13 season.  Every team will be looking to take points from the league leaders in the second half of this season, and it will be down to Nigel Pearson’s men to make sure that doesn’t happen.

One statistic which will have gone relatively unnoticed is that Leicester City have only drawn three times during the first half of this season.  They are on course to draw just six games this year, compared with last year’s eleven.  The Foxes have recorded a league-best fifteen wins so far this season (they had won eleven times at this point last year), which is indicative of a more positive mentality that this side is more than capable of taking all three points, be it home or away: Leicester also have the second-best away record in the Championship so far this season, having already won six times (the Foxes only won six league games on the road throughout the entire 2012/13 season).

A huge testament to Nigel Pearson’s focus on a top-two finish in the Championship this season is his team selection for Leicester’s fifth-round League Cup match against Manchester City, which was scheduled between two huge league games against Burnley and Queens Park Rangers.  Leicester lost 3-1 to the Premier League giants, but picked up four points from those two league games, which Pearson correctly deemed to be more important, and was able to utilise Jamie Vardy in the trip to Loftus Road who would go on and score the winning goal.  Facing a side such as Manchester City at home in a cup competition will always be a big deal for a Championship side, but the team selection for those three fixtures indicated that Nigel Pearson has his sights set on playing Premier League sides every week in 2014/15.

As it was in October, it is still too early to be thinking about putting the champagne on ice.  However, Leicester must now be considered serious contenders, given their impressive league position and ability to grind out important results against other promotion hopefuls, be it a narrow 1-0 win or a bizarre 5-3 thriller.   The next stage of the season could prove to be much more of a challenge if visiting sides consider more defensive tactics against the Foxes, in order to contrive an important away point (only three out of twelve teams that have made to the journey to the King Power Stadium this year have left with one point or more).

History is on Leicester’s side, in that each team that has topped the Championship on Boxing Day since the 2007/8 has gone on to achieve automatic promotion.  But this league is unpredictable, and a very tough one to escape from.  The Foxes need to continue to work hard in order to stay at the top of the table, and there is a lot of football to be played between now and the start of May – but things couldn’t look much better than they do right now.

Leicester City 5 Bolton Wanderers 3 – 29 December 2013

Leicester City will begin 2014 with a four-point cushion at the top of the Championship following an enthralling 5-3 win over Bolton Wanderers at the King Power Stadium.

Danny Drinkwater gave Leicester an early lead, but Bolton fought back and scored twice in five minutes through André Moritz and former Foxes striker Jermaine Beckford.

Anthony Knockaert drew the Foxes level with a back-post header, but Moritz scored just seconds later to restore Bolton’s lead.

Former Leicester City captain Matt Mills scored an unfortunate own-goal which brought an end to an encapsulating opening 45 minutes, and when David Nugent missed a second-half penalty, it seemed that Nigel Pearson’s men would have to settle for a draw.

But Lloyd Dyer edged the home side ahead with a stunning solo effort with fifteen minutes remaining, before substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored his first goal since joining the Foxes to give the hosts breathing room before the final whistle.

It was a great display of character by Nigel Pearson’s men, who have now won three consecutive games, and, with Burnley and QPR both failing to win today, the Foxes extended their lead at the top of the Championship table to four points.

Dougie Freedman, whose starting XI included former Foxes Jermaine Beckford, Matt Mills and Jay Spearing, has seen his Bolton team suffer a disappointing start to the 2013/14 Championship season – and it didn’t get any better when Danny Drinkwater put Leicester ahead after just five minutes with a fine strike into the bottom left-hand corner from eighteen yards.

It was a dream start for Leicester City, who had struggled to convert goal-scoring opportunities in recent weeks, but Nigel Pearson will have been pleased to see his side take the lead with their first legitimate effort on goal.

Ritchie De Laet and Matty James then tested the Trotters with consecutive attacking runs into the Bolton penalty area as Leicester pressed for a second goal, but it was the visitors who found the back of the net when André Moritz latched onto Lee Chung-Yong’s pass into the penalty area and found the bottom corner of the net with a low shot from twelve yards.

The equaliser came against the run of play, but was the result of some slow defending on the part of the Foxes and demonstrated Bolton’s ability to capitalise.

Things would get worse for the Foxes when Jermaine Beckford was given far too much space on the edge of the eighteen-yard box, and the former Leicester City frontman turned past Wes Morgan and drilled a low effort past Kasper Schmeichel.

It was a bizarre turnaround, but one for which Dougie Freedman must be given credit for the attacking style of play shown by his players.

Both sides looked as though they could score on any given attack, as Mohamed Kamara tested Kasper Schmeichel with a powerful long range strike which was punched away by the Danish international.

The Foxes grabbed an equaliser eight minutes before half-time when Lloyd Dyer picked out Anthony Knockaert at the back post with a deep cross, and the Frenchman headed past Andy Lonergan for his fifth goal of the season.

But, typically of the first-half of this game, Bolton regained the lead just moments after the restart when the Leicester defence were slow to close down the Trotters in attack, and André Moritz fired past Schmeichel for his second  – and Bolton’s third – goal of the game.

Just as it seemed that the first-half could not contain any more drama, the Foxes were level once again when Paul Konchesky’s shot from distance took an unfortunate deflection off Matt Mills  and past Andy Lonergan, making the score 3-3 before half-time and capping off a breathless six minutes of football.

The second-half had a lot to live up to, but became equally exciting when the match sprung into life again on the hour mark when Jamie Vardy and Zat Knight had a coming together, during which the Bolton defender appeared to grab Vardy by the throat and push him away.

Both players were cautioned by referee Mike Russell, although replays would suggest that Knight was lucky to remain on the pitch.

Leicester came close to taking the lead shortly afterwards when Anthony Knockaert’s curling free-kick struck the crossbar, and with the Bolton goal wide open, Liam Moore’s stretching effort trickled wide of the post.

At the other end, Kasper Schmeichel made a crucial fingertip save to deny Mark Davies from long range as Bolton continued to search for a winner.

With a little over fifteen minutes to go, Jamie Vardy was bundled down inside the penalty area by Andy Lonergan, giving Mike Russell no option but to point to the spot.

But when David Nugent saw his ensuing penalty-kick parried away by Lonergan, it seemed as though Leicester might be forced to settle for a point.

However, the Foxes broke down the left-hand side through Lloyd Dyer following another Bolton attack, and the winger burst past Alex Baptiste before firing superbly into the bottom corner of the net to complete the Leicester turnaround.

It was a moment of brilliance from the winger, who has now scored eight times during this Championship campaign, and one that demonstrated his ability to individually turn a game on its head.

To their credit, Bolton continued to push for a winner, but home side put the game out of sight with two minutes remaining when substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher latched on to Andy King’s flick-on and volleyed past Lonergan for his first goal as a Leicester player.

It was a composed finish from the former Blackpool striker, who has been impressive coming off the bench in recent weeks, and a goal which confirmed that Leicester would take all three points from the match.

Leicester City will end the calendar year top of the pile at the halfway point in this season, having won 15 of 23 league games, including three straight to finish December.

Man of the Match – Lloyd Dyer

December could define Leicester’s season

After suffering two consecutive losses for the first time this season, Leicester City will aim to pick up where they left off at the King Power Stadium with a first-versus-third clash with top-of-the-table Burnley this Saturday.  Just days later, the Foxes will host Premier League giants Manchester City in a League Cup quarter-final tie, before travelling to Loftus Road to take on fellow promotion rivals Queens Park Rangers.

The Foxes face two more top-six sides after Christmas – Reading the visitors on Boxing Day, before East-Midlands-rivals Derby County make the short trip down the M1 in early January.  The games come thick and fast in this league, and it goes to show how impressive Leicester’s start to their 2013/14 Championship campaign has been that the game against Manchester City is arguably the least important this month.

Leicester’s form home and away has been very good – Nigel Pearson’s men are averaging two points a game in the Championship – which suggests that back-to-back defeats at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton last week were more a blip than anything else.  But with five games still to play in December, the Foxes must return to winning ways in order to keep pace with Sean Dyche’s Burnley and promotion-favourites QPR.  The next three weeks will be a real test for Leicester, but with four of the five games remaining this calendar year being played at the King Power Stadium – where the Foxes have won nine out of eleven in all competitions – Nigel Pearson will see this as a fantastic opportunity for his side to pick up points.

Leicester have been in this position before – as recently as last year, and, as Foxes fans will recall having watched their side slipped from top spot in the Championship and outside the play-off places during a torrid run of form, actually needed help on the last day of the season in order to reach the play-offs.  Nigel Pearson will not want to see his side squander an opportunity like that again, and, with a similar squad to last year, his players should have the mental strength to push on at this stage of the season.

This December could really define Leicester’s season – not only will it mark the half-way point of this campaign, but the Foxes will have played some tough opponents who are where they are in the league on merit.  There is some breathing room between third and sixth in the Championship right now, but Leicester should still be looking up and aiming for one of the two automatic promotion spots.  Building on their impressive home form would go some way to achieving this.

Old Haunts?

Leicester City’s start to the season would certainly indicate that they have moved on from the events that unfolded at the beginning of May, during which their promotion hopes were shattered in a matter of seconds. Six months on, the Foxes lie second in the Championship, averaging more than two points per game, and they possess the strongest home record of any team in this league. At the end of a positive seven days at the King Power Stadium, in which Leicester City kept their unbeaten home run alive with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth and a thrilling 4-3 League Cup victory over Premier League side Fulham, the Foxes now have the opportunity to exorcise any remaining demons from their last visit to Vicarage Road.

There is no doubt that the build-up to this one will focus on Anthony Knockaert’s penalty miss and Troy Deeney’s winner, which broke Leicester hearts back in May. But since then, the Foxes have moved on, and have won an impressive thirteen of seventeen games in all competitive competitions. There does not seem to be any hangover from that playoff loss. New players have come into the side that will not have to think about last season as they were not involved. Nigel Pearson has done a fantastic job of keeping his players focused, but some may just need to show that little bit of extra mental strength this afternoon, and remember that this is just one game.

Leicester fans certainly don’t need constant reminders about what happened at the end of last season, and they don’t need any comparisons to be made with today’s fixture. It is very unlikely that the outcome of this one match will have any direct bearing on either Leicester’s, or Watford’s, end-of-season standing in the Championship. For the Foxes, it should be seen as an opportunity to build on what has already been achieved so far. Nigel Pearson’s men have another tough match next weekend against local rivals Nottingham Forest, but they must first get through today.

An assessment of Leicester City so far this season

Despite Leicester City’s defeat to Doncaster Rovers last weekend, the October international break is a good opportunity to assess how the Foxes have fared throughout the opening quarter of the season.  Saturday’s loss should not erase a lot of good things that have happened for Nigel Pearson’s men so far in 2013/14.

Leicester City have won seven of their opening eleven league games.  The Foxes are also undefeated at the King Power Stadium, and have scored at least two goals per each home game since the opening day of the season.  On paper, their form away from the King Power Stadium may seem unimpressive, but three wins and one draw from six games gives Nigel Pearson’s men the fifth best away record in the Championship.  Leicester have taken a total 23 points from 11 league games – such a return throughout the remainder of the 2013/14 campaign would give the Foxes 96 points by the end of the season – 28 more than their accumulated total last year, during which they snuck into the playoffs on the last day at the expense of local rivals Nottingham Forest.  Aside from their Championship campaign, Leicester City have reached in the fourth round of the League Cup and face Premier League Fulham on 29 October.  A win would see them advance into the last eight of the tournament.

Looking more into the numbers, Leicester have been held scoreless just twice in all competitions so far this season.  Good fortune appears to be favouring the Foxes, in that they have been awarded – and have converted – eight penalties in all competitions.  David Nugent has confidently put away six of these with a 100% success rate.  He is Leicester’s top scorer so far this season, although he has only scored one goal which wasn’t a spot kick.  Defensively, the Foxes have kept just four clean sheets in total, and their goals conceded record in the Championship (11) is currently joint worst for teams in the top six, but still have a goal difference of +6.

Foxes fans should not get carried away at this stage, as their side were first in the league after eleven games at this point last year, albeit for a very brief period – and after which Leicester City failed to occupy an automatic promotion spot for the remainder of the season.  Nigel Pearson’s men have been playing steady football, but have rarely dominated a match from the beginning.  80 per cent of their goals have been scored in the second-half, often after a lacklustre opening 45 minutes.  This demonstrates an ability to step up a gear when need be, but it also creates an argument that Leicester City are not playing at a consistently high level – something which will need addressing when stronger teams come to the King Power Stadium this season.

It is difficult to look too much into the opening quarter of the season, but to summarise briefly, Leicester have started fairly strongly – hence their league position – although they will need to at least maintain this level until May in order to remain in the hunt for promotion.  There are some teams in the Championship this year with the same objective as the Foxes, and who have enjoyed an equally good opening quarter.  A league cup run would be a great opportunity for Nigel Pearson to test the strength of this current side against Premier League opposition, as well as to see where improvements, if any, need to be made in order to achieve top-flight status.

Grand Finales

There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about Leicester City’s strong start to the 2013/14 season.  The Foxes currently lie third in the Championship after eight games, and can look forward to a league cup fourth-round home tie against Premier League Fulham.  Nigel Pearson has not been overly active in the transfer window, although he has added depth at key positions, while allowing other players to leave the King Power Stadium on loan deals.

Although this season is young, one statistic does stand out – Leicester have won five times this season in games in which they have conceded the first goal.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Nigel Pearson’s men have, at times, been slow out of the blocks, but this figure demonstrates that they have the capability of improving their game when it really matters.  In eleven games in all competitions, the Foxes have scored 16 of their 22 goals in the second-half, and have earned seven points in the Championship from losing positions.

There is certainly a long way to go, and Leicester are not playing their best football right now, but Nigel Pearson will be pleased with his players’ ability to change the momentum and finish strongly – it is something that will be crucial towards the end stages of the season.

Moore impresses as Foxes pass Wigan litmus test

Leicester City’s 2-0 home victory yesterday afternoon over Wigan Athletic was a perfect return to Championship football following the Autumn international break.  Having had two weeks to dwell on their first league defeat of the season at the hands of Charlton Athletic, Nigel Pearson’s men returned to winning ways with goals from Liam Moore and David Nugent, while the defence kept their third clean sheet in six games.

More importantly, Leicester were facing their first newly-relegated team in Wigan Athletic, who many have tipped as instant promotion contenders for 2013/14.   The Foxes passed this test with flying colours, and have another chance on Tuesday against Blackburn Rovers to keep pace with East Midlands-rivals Nottingham Forest, who are also enjoying a good start to the season, as well as high-flyers Blackpool and QPR.  Essentially, this victory ticked a lot of boxes, and gave the rest of the Championship a reminder that Leicester City will be a threat this year.

Huge credit should be given to Liam Moore, who is becoming an important part of this Leicester defence.  Playing alongside Wes Morgan at the back will be a real education for the 20-year-old, although his first senior goal yesterday against Wigan epitomised his own individual performances so far this season.  Like Andy King, Moore has come through the Leicester youth team to earn a starting spot for the club that he supports, and the youngster has benefited from a couple of loan spells at Bradford City and Brentford to gain experience.  Foxes fans will hope to see him prosper this season.

The arrival of Dean Hammond before the end of the summer transfer window was the main action at the King Stadium towards the end of August, while Martyn Waghorn recently agreed a three-month loan deal with Millwall (and scored on debut yesterday in the Lions’ 5-1 home-loss to Derby County).  With four games in the next twelve days, Hammond could well be in line for more game time, and will hope to be in contention for a starting place in midfield.  The 30-year-old spent the majority of 2012/13 on loan at Brighton and made 37 appearances for the Seagulls, so there will be no questioning his stamina and endurance towards the business end of the season where the Foxes tailed off last year.

Wood, Dyer impress as Foxes hit five on the road

Chris Wood and Lloyd Dyer came up big in Leicester City’s 5-2 Capital One cup win against Carlisle United at Brunton Park last night.  The Foxes scored four goals in 14 second-half minutes to take control of the second-round tie, despite falling behind to an early David Amoo goal.  Some may have anticipated a weakened Leicester City team to go on and lose that game, but, for the third time in six games this season, they took control in the second-half and came out on top.

The result was convincing, but in the grand scheme of things not all that important.  It is unlikely that Leicester City will go on and win the Capital One cup.  What is important is the number of positives that Nigel Pearson and Craig Shakespeare can and will take away from last night’s performance.

Lloyd Dyer captained the side in the absence of both Wes Morgan and Kasper Schmeichel.  Despite featuring more and more as an impact substitution for the Foxes, he continues to be a fan favourite with his great attitude and blistering pace.  If anything, Dyer seems to be improving with age.  Perhaps knowing that his place in the team is not guaranteed provides him with the impetus to succeed when he does get the opportunity.

Chris Wood scored an impressive hat-trick, notching his first goals for the club since April.  The striker enjoyed a superb run of form at the beginning of 2013 after making his move to the King Power Stadium, scoring seven goals in five appearances for Leicester, including another away hat-trick against Bristol City during that time.  However, his form took a real dip towards the end of the season, tying in with Leicester’s end-of-season near-collapse which saw the Foxes scrape into the Championship play-offs on goal difference after flying high for the first-half of the season.  It was a much-needed big performance from the New Zealander, and with Jamie Vardy taking most of the headlines in recent weeks following a string of impressive performances, Wood will certainly hope to build on last night’s outing and give Nigel Pearson a selection headache.

It was also a great opportunity for Pearson to rest the legs of David Nugent and Wes Morgan among others, but also to give other players an opportunity to impress and potentially work their way into the team.  Neil Danns and Ignasi Miquel were able to get 90 minutes under their belt, while Zoumana Bakayogo featured deep into the second-half.  Squad depth is crucial in any league, and to know that other players can come in and perform when required is a big thing for any manager.

Escaping the Championship is the ultimate goal for Leicester City this season, although Nigel Pearson will have been pleased with how his players performed on return to his old club and will hope to keep to winning ways beyond the upcoming international break.

Leicester City 3 Birmingham City 2 – 24 August 2013

Leicester scored three goals in twelve minutes to complete a late rally at the King Power Stadium against Midlands rivals Birmingham City to claim their first home win of the season in dramatic style.

The visitors took a first-half lead from Matt Green’s close-range finish, but the Foxes improved after the break and drew level through a fine strike from Jamie Vardy.

Andy King put the hosts ahead five minutes later with an equally good finish in his 250th appearance for the Foxes, before David Nugent converted a penalty in stoppage time to complete the turnaround.

Substitute Chris Burke made it 3-2 with a sublime last-second goal, but it was not enough to stop Leicester continuing their unbeaten start to this Championship campaign.

Nigel Pearson will have been disappointed with his side’s first-half performance, who were without injured captain Wes Morgan, but did see huge improvements when Lloyd Dyer and Anthony Knockaert replaced Chris Wood and Danny Drinkwater at half-time, giving the Foxes more width in attack which caused Birmingham problems.

Jamie Vardy, who has enjoyed a superb start to the season, nearly opened the scoring in the second minute after breaking through the Birmingham backline and latching onto a long through ball, but goalkeeper Darren Randolph was out quickly to thwart the danger.

The visitors then took the lead ten minutes later when Shane Ferguson found space on the left wing to send a deep cross into the Leicester six-yard box, and Matt Green escaped his marker to poke the ball past Kasper Schmeichel from point-blank range.

It was a poor goal to concede from a defensive point of view, and perhaps highlighted a lack of leadership at the back without Morgan on the pitch to lead the line.

Leicester almost struck back instantly through Chris Wood, although the New Zealander’s shot was deflected wide of the mark.

The hosts, while arguably in control of the match, then struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities until the latter stages of the first-half when Jamie Vardy won the ball back in an advanced position before turning and testing Randolph at his near post, winning his side a corner in the process.

The Foxes did find themselves a goal down at half-time, but were much better after the break after reverting to a 4-4-2 formation and introducing Lloyd Dyer and Anthony Knockaert into the match, who replaced Danny Drinkwater and Chris Wood respectively.

The instant improvement was clear to see as Jamie Vardy continued to cause Birmingham problems at the back, chasing down a loose ball before forcing a close-range save from Randolph.

Lloyd Dyer then tried to pick out Anthony Knockaert at the back post as the two substitutes combined in attack, but his cross just eluded the Frenchman.

David Nugent tested Randolph with a shot on target, but Leicester could not draw level despite an extended period of dominance in the match.

At the other end, Neil Eardley almost doubled Birmingham’s lead with a free-kick from 25 yards, but Kasper Schmeichel was on hand to tip the ball around the post as the visitors looked to turn the screw.

It appeared as though Leicester were going to be handed their first loss of the season until twelve minutes from time when Lloyd Dyer burst down the left wing and found Jamie Vardy on the edge of the penalty area, and the former Fleetwood Town man powered the ball past Randolph to draw the Foxes level.

It was a fantastic finish from Vardy who has enjoyed a wonderful start to the season following a mixed 2012/13 campaign which saw the striker feature mainly as a substitute.

Leicester would not settle for a point, and just minutes later Andy King put the Foxes ahead with a fantastic curling strike from the edge of the penalty area after clever build-up play from Anthony Knockaert and David Nugent.

It was King’s 250th appearance for his hometown club and the Welsh international could not have marked it in any better fashion.

Birmingham looked shell-shocked as the home side were now fully in control, but there was still time for more drama as Kyle Bartley was adjudged to have brought down Lloyd Dyer in the penalty area in second-half stoppage time.

David Nugent stepped up to fire the ball down the middle of the goal from twelve yards, making it 3-1 to the Foxes, although Lee Clark’s men were unhappy with referee Eddie Ilderton’s decision to award the  initial spot kick.

Chris Burke gave the visitors a late lifeline with a sublime curling finish, but the goal came too late as the full-time whistle blew almost immediately after the restart.

Leicester now sit second in the Championship, having taken ten points from a possible twelve, following an encouraging start to this season.

Man of the Match – Jamie Vardy