Date: 3rd January 2009 at 7:00pm
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A drab affair at the Walkers Stadium brought a goalless draw between Leicester and Crystal Palace earlier today.

It means both sides have it all to do again when the two sides meet in the replay at Selhurst Park a week on Tuesday.

Both Steve Howard and Neil Danns had the chance to win the game for their respective sides, but ultimately it was the result that was meant to be in a game that reflected the scoreline entirely.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made a host of changes to the team which beat Hereford last weekend, with Aleksander Tunchev, Joe Mattock and Max Gradel replacing Michael Morrison, Matt Oakley and top-scorer Matty Fryatt.

It was Leicester who controlled much of the first half, dominating the game both up front and at the back, with powerful striker Steve Howard causing all the problems for the Palace backline.

Speculative efforts from both Paul Ifil and then Howard sailed high and wide of goal inside the first two minutes.

Howard was again involved when he met Max Gradel’s corner from the left, but the big striker was unable to direct his header on target.

A dangerous cross from Palace’s Leandre Griffit was well defended by Bruno Berner, before Howard had another chance, this time heading over from inside the area.

Leicester’s closest attempt in the first half came after 27 minutes when left back Joe Mattock unleashed a dangerous drive from a free-kick which narrowly flashed past Speroni’s goalframe.

After much frustration dealing with Howard, Jose Fonte was booked for a second foul on the player, much to the frustration of Palace manager Neil Warnock.

It was Leicester who offered virtually all of the attacking threat in the first half without creating anything of any real substance, overrunning Palace’s midfield in the process.

The second half began with some Palace pressure; firstly with a dangerous corner from Nathaniel Clyne which was dealt with well by Hobbs. Penalty appeals for a handball against Kerrea Gilbert were waved away by referee Graham Laws as the away side finally started to offer some kind of attacking threat.

A shot from Leicester’s Mark Davies was dragged wide past Speroni’s post as the home side looked to find the opening goal in the game.

Leicester goalkeeper David Martin was forced into his first save of the match after Griffit’s swinging effort was well held by the man on loan from Liverpool.

Paul Dickov replaced Bruno Berner after 57 minutes as manager Nigel Pearson reverted to the more familiar formation of 4-4-2.

Four minutes later Leicester should have gone ahead after Howard was sent through on goal by substitute Dickov. The striker took the ball in his stride 25 yards out from goal, but sliced his effort wide past the oncoming Speroni under pressure from the Palace defence.

Confusion in the Leicester penalty area almost gifted Palace an unlikely goal, but Martin was on hand to steady the ship after Gilbert’s miscue.

Nicky Adams replaced Lloyd Dyer after 73 minutes, followed five minutes later by Neil Warnock’s first change of the game, Victor Moses coming on for Leandre Griffit.

Foxes winger Max Gradel followed up with a chance from the left, firing at Speroni’s near post, but the ‘keeper was on hand to first save and then gather the ball at the second attempt.

With ten minutes remaining it looked like the visitors could have been heading into the fourth round when Neil Danns was handed the chance to shoot from close range, only to see his goalbound effort superbly blocked by Leicester defender Jack Hobbs.

This was the final chance in a game that never threatened to get going, dominated by poor football from both sides. The teams will meet again a week on Tuesday (13th January) at Selhurst Park.

City: Martin, Gilbert, Tunchev, Hobbs, Mattock, Gradel, Berner (57 Dickov), A King, Davies, Dyer (73 Adams), Howard (c)

Subs Not Used: Campbell, Morrison, Porter, Chambers, Powell

Palace: Speroni, Griffit (78 Moses), Lee, Butterfield, Fonte, Hill, Lawrence, Danns, Carle, Ifill, Clyne

Subs Not Used: Flahavan, Scannell, Ertl, Hills, Comley, Andrew

Yellow Cards: City: Palace: Fonte (44),

Attendance: 15976 (1326 Away)

Referee: Graham Laws (Tyne & Wear)

Player Ratings

David Martin (6.5)
One good save from Griffit in the second half, with some confident handling elsewhere. Had very little to do.

Kerrea Gilbert (6.5)
Stuck to his defensive duties well enough, playing things simple and taking no chances. It would be nice to see him be a bit more confident going forward.

Jack Hobbs (7.5)
Very little got past him today, including one brilliant block at the death to save Leicester.

Aleksander Tunchev (6)
Struggled against Lee, particularly in the first half when the centre back won very little against him. However, rarely was he threatened by anything substantial.

Joe Mattock (6)
Another steady performer, although his passing in particular was wayward in the first half. Offered Leicester’s best chance in the first half with a stinging shot.

Max Gradel (6)
Out of the side for a long time, today was his first appearance in a while. Fairly quiet through most of the game, he showed flashes of his abilties, particularly with his effort which was saved by Speroni. Not a bad game.

Andy King (6.5)
Had to take on Matt Oakley’s role in the skipper’s absence, with most of the play coming through the youngster. Leicester dominated the midfield battle today, speaking for King’s tidy performance.

Mark Davies (6.5)
Relaively quiet game for his standards, often used as a second striker today with Leicester without Fryatt. Showed glimpses of his attacking threat.

Bruno Berner (5.5)
Never got into the game, completely anonymous.

Lloyd Dyer (5.5)
Another disappointing performance. Looked a little bit lost trying to play both left wing and as a support for Howard.

Steve Howard (7.5*)
Leicester’s best player today. Most of the team’s play was directed to him, and he made no mistake in winning virtually every header and holding up play. Should have won the game for Leicester with his one on one opportunity.


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