Date: 15th January 2009 at 5:39pm
Written by:

A woeful performance from an under-strength Leicester side saw Crystal Palace deservedly progress to the fourth round of this year’s F.A Cup to face Watford.

Goals from Paul Ifil and Sean Scannell were enough to hand Palace a comfortable win on the night, with Leicester’s Max Gradel grabbing a consolation goal with the last kick of the game.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made several changes to his starting lineup, with Marc Edworthy, Joe Mattock, Max Gradel and Paul Dickov replacing Kerrea Gilbert, Mark Davies, Lloyd Dyer and top-scorer Matty Fryatt.

Leicester began the match in bright fashion, forcing an early corner after Matt Oakley’s effort was deflected out of play. A set-piece from the same player caused problems in the Palace box before falling to safety for a goal-kick.

In truth this was Leicester’s only attacking threat for 75 minutes, in a game they never had a true grasp of.

The ever-threatening Alan Lee was halted by Leicester centre back Aleksander Tunchev after he burst into the area following Paul Ifil’s pass.

Leicester’s woes began after 22 minutes when Tunchev was stretched off with suspected knee ligament damage, replaced by youngster Michael Morrison.

Palace themselves suffered an injury blow after 31 minutes when Victor Moses limped off, and was duly replaced by Neil Warnock with fellow youngster Sean Scannell.

Steve Howard headed over soon after following Joe Mattock’s cross from the left.

The match was brought to life after 38 minutes when Paul Ifil’s shot was cruelly deflected into his own net by Andy King, much to the dismay of Leicester’s 1000-strong travelling support.

With half-time approaching Ifil tried his luck once more, this time firing over from just outside the penalty area.

Soon after referee Steve Tanner signalled the end of a scrappy half of football, in which neither side really took great control of. However, it was Palace who held the lead nonetheless, and Leicester manager Nigel Pearson had work to do to level matters.

It was first-half substitute Sean Scannell however who made matters worse for City in the 54th minute when he took advantage of Joe Mattock’s absence at left back to burst into the Leicester penalty area, before placing the ball between David Martin’s legs.

Pearson was forced to make the substitution seven minutes later, academy prospect Ashley Chambers replacing the largely ineffective Paul Dickov.

Palace defender Matt Lawrence came close soon after when he connected with Nick Carle’s ball in, but his header was off target.

Kerrea Gilbert replaced Marc Edworthy with 15 minutes remaining in Pearson’s final substitution.

Leicester attempted to form some kind of attacking threat in the late stages of the game through Bruno Berner, but his effort was well saved by Julian Speroni in the Palace goal.

Speroni was on hand soon after to push out substitue Ashley Chamber’s fierce effort for a corner.

Matt Oakley should have reduced the deficit moments later when he found himself with the goal at his mercy, but his effort was dragged embarassingly wide to sum up Leicester’s day.

The Foxes did however grab a late goal with the last kick off the game through winger Max Gradel, his first for the club, when he connected with Chambers’ cross from the right hand side.

The defeat means that Leicester crash out of the competition, with Crystal Palace advancing to play Watford in the fourth round. Leicester resume their League One campaign on Monday night when they travel to Yeovil.

City: Martin, Edworthy (Gilbert 76), Tunchev (Morrison 22), Hobbs, Mattock, Oakley (c), King, Berner, Gradel, Dickov (Chamber 61), Howard.

Subs not used: Adams, Porter, Powell, Cisak.

Yellow: Chambers, Gradel.

Palace: Speroni, Lawrence, Hill, Derry (c), Lee (Kuqi 61), Carle, Moses (Scannell 31), Danns, Butterfield, Ifill (Andrew78), Clyne.

Subs not used: Flahavan, Hills, Andrew, Ertl, Comley.

Att: 6,023 (1,213 away)