A disappointing display and deserved defeat for Newcastle United here, with us a yard off the pace and blunt in attack against Leicester City.
Goals from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans did the damage as we tired early on in the second half and left too many gaps at the back after steady start.
Andy Carroll scored his first goal for the club in over a decade to give us a glimmer of hope in the final five minutes, however it was a case of too little too late from our perspective, with our urgency to attack and get bodies in the box only coming when the damage had been done.
Wilson was too often isolated, Joelinton and Almiron struggled, our tiring midfield was too easily bypassed and our defence was cut open as a result, being left exposed for both of Leicester’s second half strikes.
The late strike ended our goal drought, but the defeat highlighted how lacking we are in a box-to-box midfielder capable of keeping up at both ends of the field and quality attacking options to supply Callum Wilson when ASM and Fraser are missing.
The results leaves us winless in our last five and stuck in 15th on 19 points after 16 games, with us eight points clear of the bottom three at present.
Steve Bruce made two changes for this one, bringing in Sean Longstaff for the suspended Isaac Hayden and handing Miguel Almiron a recall at the expense of Jacob Murphy:
As we come to expect, Leicester dominated possession in the early stages, having over 70% of the ball in the opening 10 minutes. We were higher up the pitch once again and attempting to press – although this time the visitors were finding gaps and threatening to get in behind.
The danger of a high line is it gives strikers like Jamie Vardy space to get in behind if gaps open up – and he very nearly punished us on two occasions. The first saw Youri Tielemans make a mess of his clever cut-back, then the England striker had the ball in the net minutes later – only for the offside flag to save our blushes.
We were a yard behind them, weren’t always getting tight enough and seemed looser in possession than we were on Wednesday night, however we did have a decent spell midway through the first half, with Joelinton getting a header on goal then being unlucky not to set Wilson in behind after his ball over the top was cut out via a crucial Kasper Schmeichel interception.
This half-decent spell helped stem the tide. Leicester were still having the lions share of possession, but we were working hard all over the pitch and getting a little bit tighter to their key men to deny Vardy of the kind of service he was thriving from in the opening 15 minutes.
One thing that had to improve was our ability to get bodies closer to Wilson – he just 11 touches in the opening 45 – Joelinton’s first touch and our passing from deep, with us often lumping it long (even when we had the chance to build from the back) and the referee Rob Jones having more touches than some of our outfield players in the first half!
That said, we went into the break at 0-0 and had managed to contain a Leicester City that threatened to tear us apart early on. It wasn’t pretty and we had to be better on the ball in the second half, however it was another solid defensive effort – despite a few scares.
The game got back underway and there was immediately a couple of early warning signs as Vardy and Co. got in behind, only for his shot to slice wide of Darlow’s near post.
We got into a few good positions, with Yedlin whipping in a brilliant ball that somehow evaded everyone in black and white and Almiron also had a few attempts to slip Wilson in behind cut out.
Just as we were growing into the game and threatening to cause problems, a Leicester City counter attack saw Harvey Barnes leave the Longstaff brothers for dead and play in Vardy. He cut in and laid the ball back for James Maddison, who lashed a powerful strike beyond a helpless Karl Darlow and into the roof of the net. 0-1 Leicester.
Against the run of play based on our promising start to the second half, but an away goal that always looked likely if they caught us off guard with players out of position and struggling to get back.
The Longstaff’s hadn’t played badly in the middle up until this point, but their lack of pace was badly exposed for the goal, highlighting how badly we need a box-to-box midfielder capable of keeping up with play at both ends of the field.
Murphy and Shelvey then replaced a very disappointing Almiron and Joelinton. The former immediately burst forward and a wicked cross soon followed from Matty Longstaff…but once again no one was in the middle to make the most of it.
Then, five minutes later, it was 0-2 via a combination of brilliant Leicester finishing and dreadful marking from our perspective.
Ritchie was caught sleeping to allow Albrighton all the time in the world to pick out Youri Tielemans in the box. The Belgian still had a lot to do, but with Jonjo Shelvey treading water in his attempt to get back and Matty Longstaff out on his feet, he swept the ball past Karl Darlow expertly.
We were at sixes and sevens at this point and Jamie Vardy smelt blood as he then got in between Schar and Fernandez. His resultant shot rattled to crossbar and Andy Carroll then entered the field with just over 10 minutes remaining – and he made an immediate impact!
His introduction stunk of desperation based on his recent attempts to ‘make an impact’ from the bench, yet he lashed home a volley to score his first for the club in over a decade and hand us a surprise lifeline heading into the final five minutes.
We had Leicester camped in their own half for a spell and were lumping hopeful ball at the big man, but little came of it. That said, Shelvey put a teasing cross that was asking to be finished off, but YET AGAIN there was no one in black and white able to make the most of an inviting ball across the box.
That was that and Leicester held on for a deserved win.
Next up, an FA Cup clash against a much improved Arsenal next weekend!