FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
Leicester City VS Derby County
After the so called “embarrassment” dealt to the Foxes this past weekend at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, the Tinker Man Claudio Ranieri stayed true to the name as he rang up ten changes from the side that suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Red Devils.
The main talking point from what turned out to be a goalless first half has got to be the Foxes’ penalty appeal which was denied by match referee Mike Jones. In my eyes this was surely a penalty and it should’ve been and might’ve been 1-0 to the Premier League champions. Young full back, Ben Chilwell was brought down in the box by Derby’s Richard Keogh. However, referee Mike Jones wasn’t interested and let play go on.
The sides went into the break level at 0-0
Leicester started the second half full of fire, obviously Ranieri said some choice words at the interval as they came forward in the opening moments of the second half. This attack brought with it the first goal of the game, a brilliant cross from youngster Demarai Gray and a clever header back across goal from Marc Albrighton left Andy King to head home for the first goal of evening sending the home fans at the KP into raptures.
The opening goal seemed to spark some life into the Rams, as they themselves began to come forward and in the process winning two free kicks. The first of which was palmed away by Foxes ‘keeper Zieler. However, the second set piece dealt a crucial blow to the champions. Abdoulaye Camara’s 25 yard strike took a deflection off Ben Chilwell who was on the end of the wall and levelled the game up at 1-1. Camara’s set piece goal meant that with the scores level at 1-1 after the end of the 90 minutes we were headed for extra time.
Just before the start of extra time, the Italian Ranieri made what proved to be an inspired substitution. He called upon the services of January signing, Wilfried Ndidi. Within minutes of his arrival, the Nigerian changed the game completely as he fired an absolute wonder strike from 25 yards. With the foxes now leading 2-1, up stepped Demarai Gray. The young winger went on a sensational run cutting inside the Derby box, brilliantly weaves his way past two defenders with some sublime footwork before calmly slotting home a right footed shot into the top right corner. A goal no doubt, Ryan Giggs would’ve been proud of. As a result of Leicester’s heroics in extra time, the game finished 3-1 to the Foxes.
Overall, the Rams put up a great fight on the pitch and it was a strong display from a Championship side aiming to finish in the Playoff spots. Derby put up a great fight and pushed Leicester to the very end. However, had Mike Jones given the Leicester penalty in the first half, who knows what would’ve been?
My Star Man
This award can only go to one man, and that man has to be the Foxes’ youngster, Demarai Gray. Gray proved crucial to the outcome of this game as he played a key role in the opener with his initial cross leading to Andy King’s goal. Gray was a nuisance for Derby’s defence today and this rang true when he scored his sensational goal.
Demarai Gray 8/10.
The Premier League Champions will now face League One side Millwall in the next round of the FA Cup. However, next up for Ranieri’s men is a trip to fellow strugglers in the Premier League, Swansea. Can Ranieri’s men use this win as a catalyst to turn around, what has so far been a dismal defence of their crown?