A shooting blitzkrieg, pronounced territorial dominance and a stupendous volleyed goal from Iain Hume was not enough to earn 10-man Leiceser City better than a 1-1 home draw with Crewe this afternoon.
Indeed, only a double goalline clearance by substitute Steve Hughes prevented the embarrassment of a defeat that would have left their fans stunned.
Much-boosted by ticket discounts, a healthy 24 873 watched City give a cultured display of ball-to-feet football which quickly threatened to add to Crewe’s run of five successive defeats.
But, as so often with City this season, their tally of over 20 shots produced but one goal and left Crewe flattered and delighted to leave with a point.
Crewe’s attacks were rare as humming birds in the high street but they were dangerous and one strike was disallowed for offside.
Leicester suffered similarly when a Kisnorbo shot was touched in by Hammond but controversially disallowed for the same reason (later study suggested it should have counted) before Crewe stole the lead close to half-time through Michael Higdon.
A cross from the right deflected high off Alan Sheehan’s boot, looped over Rab Douglas on the near post and there was Higdon to head home unmarked on the far post.
Sheehan had, until then, played an excellent part in sustaining City’s left-side attacks, being constantly available, feeding Ryan Smith with endless ammunition on the left wing and even whacking two or three long range shots which were all uncomfortably close for Crewe.
But, he also got booked (for a harmless looking foul in an altogether good tempered match) and his second foul after the restart left him with a red card and Leicester with 10 men for the second time in the last three games.
The hindrance didn’t stop their forward momentum. Indeed their increased urgency threatened to overrun the Crewe rearguard and the equaliser was among the most brilliant seen at the Walkers all season.
Joey Gudjohnsson, wide right, spotted a run by Hume (wide left) and delivered a wondrous 45 yard diagonal pass which Hume collected in his stride and volleyed viciously into the far corner
of the net.
Gudjonsson had earlier been so close to giving City the lead, smashing a long-range shot that bounced onto Crewe keeper Ross Turnbull and ricochetted onto the bar and over.
Leicester, inspired by Hume and Gudjonsson piled forward in the last 15 minutes but Crewe’s occasional breaks were always a threat and late substitute Steve Hughes had hardly been on the field before he was called on to make two spectacular goalline saves in quick succession as Crewe sensed the chance of stealing victory through a breakaway.
Hughes, plagued by injury, has not enjoyed a good season even when he’s played but the clearances seemed to lift his confidence to old heights and, once more he looked the dangerous, driving, midfield dynamo the fans thought had disappeared.
Another to re-emerge from apparent exile was Gareth Williams and he too seemed fueled by new-found energy as he sought to unlock Crewe’s defence and conjure a last-gasp winner.
Perhaps the best chance fell to City’s third substitute, leading scorer Mark DeVries who found himself one-on-one on the edge of Crewe’s penalty area, momentarily slipped his man but just failed to get his shot in quick enough to finish the game.
City manager Craig Levein should have been heartened by his team’s display.
Following the scintillating destruction of Sheffield United in their last home game, City again produced a cohesive display of attacking football which was as good as anyone is likely to see in this division.
Winger Ryan Smith had so much of the ball on both flanks that he finished so tired (and a little slowed by a knock) that he was reduced to simply bending crosses into the goalmouth by the finish.
City may not have won, they may even have lost further ground in their increasingly unlikely bid for a play-off place but the signs remained that a worthwhile team is emerging and one which looks sure to put the dour days of recent seasons into the history books.
No chance with the goal, little to do.
Competent and prepared to support midfield.
Busy and mostly effective.
Several good shots on goal, always available, thoughtful passing, harsh to go off.
Again lost concentration at times. Not effective enough.
Busy and dominant
driving force. Good shots. Always involved.
A real to Crewe on both flanks.
Unlucky to have strike disallowed, worked tirelessly.
wonderful goal, endless energy, Man of the Match
His goalline clearances saved two points.
Positive and committed.
Missed golden chance to score winner.