Leicester 2-1 Birmingham: 3 Talking Points as the Foxes March Back to Top of Table

Another vital match in Leicester City’s Championship campaign ended with a 2-1 victory after Stephy Mavididi’s late winner. Here, we examine three key talking points
Mavididi's vital late winner
Mavididi's vital late winner / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

The seven game promotion run-in began with a clash with relegation threatened Birmingham City on Filbert Way. The Foxes led from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s opener but were pegged back when a horrendous mistake by Mads Hermansen gifted the Blues an equaliser just before half time. Leicester huffed and puffed in the second half without really threatening another goal but just as the home fans at the King Power were giving up hope, Mavididi popped up with a far post header from a great cross from substitute Younis Akgun to put the game beyond their West Midlands opponents.

Got their mojo back?

As Jordan Blackwell reported in the Leicester Mercury, Enzo Maresca this week pleaded for a pause in the constant negative vibes surrounding the club in recent weeks. After a difficult few weeks, on and off the pitch, the Foxes appear to have found their way again. And not before time. Results have gone against Leicester recently for a whole host of reasons. Loss of form is clearly one of them – particularly when it comes to taking chances – but this has been accompanied by bad luck, poor officiating and quality opponents. The form certainly returned in abundance for the victory over Norwich on Easter Monday. Against Birmingham, we also saw great resilience, patience and pure grit. Just enough six games to endure.

A pivotal weekend?

If Leicester are to return to the Premier League, either they must win all of their remaining matches or their rivals must slip up somewhere. This was the weekend when the latter looked possible with both Ipswich and Leeds facing difficult looking away games. And so it turned out. Ipswich were beaten 1-0 by Norwich at Carrow Road in the early kick off and Leeds succumbed to Coventry by the odd goal in three. Back to the top of the table march LCFC with a two-point lead over third place and a game in hand. There is, at last, light at the end of the tunnel. If the Foxes return unscathed from their two away matches next week, we might be able to breathe a little easier.

Balls of steel

The sweeper-keeper role is essential to Enzoball and Hermansen doesn’t have to be persuaded to play the role. On Saturday, we saw the downside of the tactic when the Leicester ‘keeper dallied on the ball for too long and was closed down by Birmingham’s Jay Stansfield who deflected the ball into an empty net. Even Maresca would probably agree that there is a time and a place to implement the tactic – of dwelling on the ball inviting opponents to press and then getting beyond them – and this isn’t a minute before half time with your team in the lead.

After such a calamity, mere mortals would make sure they cleared the ball firmly and quickly at every opportunity. But not Mads who continued to play the ball-retaining role throughout the rest of the match. That takes real guts. Or maybe Hermansen was more worried about the reaction of his manager if he took to hoofing the ball upfield.