Leicester undone by Royal performance
Leicester’s good start to the season was dealt a blow this afternoon as they were well beaten by a strong Reading side at the King Power Stadium.
Noel Hunt’s put the visitors ahead just after the hour mark with a fine glancing header from Ian Harte`s corner kick.
Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu doubled the Royals’ lead in the 90th minute with a fine strike into the top corner.
David Nugent came closest to scoring for the Foxes when his curling strike hit the inside of the post, while Andy King forced Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici into making a good save following a powerful shot from distance.
While there were positives to take away from the game, manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will surely have some concerns over some sloppy defending, inaccurate passing and poor communication on the field.
Eriksson called up 18-year old youth product Jeffrey Schlupp into the starting eleven after his second-half hat-trick in Leicester’s Carling Cup first round win over Rotherham United.
Ghanaian full-back John Pantsil also replaced the injured Lee Peltier in an otherwise unchanged side that beat Coventry City 1-0 last weekend.
However, it was the visitors who started positively in the early exchanges, finding plenty of time to pass the ball around without fear of being closed down by the Leicester backline, Mathieu Manset looking impressive early on after continually getting the better of former Reading captain Matt Mills, who looked unsettled for the Foxes for lengthy periods of the match.
The first chance of the match fell to Manset – who scored twice in five minutes against Millwall last week to rescue a point for the Royals – after cutting inside Mills and firing wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.
The Danish shot stopper was also on hand minutes later to make a fine save after Reading had once again unlocked the Leicester defence through Jimmy Kebe.
At the other end, Richie Wellens managed to pick out David Nugent with a free-kick into the Reading penalty area, but the chance was cut out by Reading’s resolute backline.
Kebe continued to cause Leicester problems at the back; Yuki Abe’s last-ditch challenge preventing the Malian international from releasing a shot on goal.
Reading should have taken the lead just before the hour mark from an Ian Harte corner but defender Alex Pearce inexplicably headed wide from point blank range following some lacklustre Leicester defending.
The hosts showed some life in the final ten minutes of the first-half when Richie Wellens picked out Neil Danns in the Reading penalty area, but his shot was quickly closed down by Alex Pearce.
Yuki Abe then tried his luck from long range, but his shot drifted wide of Federici’s post.
Leicester continued to build pressure before the break, with David Nugent`s strike from deep inside the penalty area falling just wide of the mark – however the home side appeared to lack width in midfield and generally struggled to break the visitors down.
The second-half saw Yuki Abe replaced by Welsh international Andy King – and the substitution seemed to spark Leicester into life as David Nugent’s fine curling strike agonisingly hit the inside of the post minutes after the restart.
At the other end, Schmeichel again was forced into close down Jimmy Kebe who continued to find ways to break through Leicester’s defence – but the home side continued to threaten as Andy King`s vicious strike from 25 yards was tipped wide by Adam Federici.
Nugent headed over from Gelson Fernandes’ ball into the box, but the visitors were soon ahead when some sloppy Leicester defending allowed Noel Hunt to head home Ian Harte`s corner kick at the near post, giving Schmeichel no chance.
The goal was no more than Reading deserved for their dominance – despite coming against the run of play – but Eriksson will have been disappointed to see his side failing to clear their lines from a set piece.
The second-half contained fewer clear cut chances as the match continued, although Jimmy Kebe could have doubled his side`s advantage when Mathieu Manset went to ground following a strong challenge with play was allowed to continue, but Leicester appeared to switch off completely, allowing the speedy forward to fire a shot just wide of the goal.
The incident sparked a furious reaction from Kasper Schmeichel who appeared to berate his defenders – including captain Matt Mills – as well as Richie Wellens.
As the game wound down, John Pantsil’s hanging cross was met by the head of makeshift striker Sol Bamba, but the Ivorian could not keep his effort down and flew harmlessly over the bar.
Reading eventually did double their lead in the 90th minute when Jimmy Kebe set up Hal Robson-Kanu inside the penalty area who drilled the ball into the roof of the net from twelve yards.
The Royals were good for their second goal, and it completed a fantastic away performance for Brian McDermott’s side who will have promotion hopes of their own this season.
The final whistle capped off a frustrating day at the office for Sven-Goran Eriksson, who will be disappointed with certain areas his side’s performance for long spells of the game.
Man of the Match – Bongani Khumalo