Monday 25 September 2017

Ledley adds to Leicester worries

Crystal Palace's Joe Ledley scored the game's only goal
Crystal Palace's Joe Ledley scored the game's only goal

The Crystal Palace revival under Alan Pardew rolled on as Joe Ledley's winner sunk rock-bottom Leicester.

Ledley's second goal of the season in the 55th minute was enough to give Palace their fifth victory in six matches since Pardew took up the reins and move them six points clear of the relegation zone in the Barclays Premier League.

For City manager Nigel Pearson's side, defeat was a blow to their survival hopes and in fairness they had their chances to either have taken the lead or salvaged an equaliser.

But, in falling to a third successive league defeat, their top-flight status is looking in increasing peril unless they conjure a revival of their own.

In terms of entertainment the first half was end to end, with City enjoying the better of the opportunities.

David Nugent, recalled to the side for £9million record buy Andrej Kramaric, who was one of five players dropped to the bench after last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Manchester United, was involved in most.

He should certainly have done better when presented with a 16th-minute chance carved out by Leonardo Ulloa and Riyadh Mahrez, opting for a hopelessly misplaced cross to the former when a shot on goal seemed the better option.

Nine minutes later Mahrez forced the first save of the game from Julian Speroni, the Palace number one smartly down to a low-angled drive from the Algerian after he had turned inside Martin Kelly.

Mahrez, back from African Nations Cup duty, was the supplier again in the 27th minute with an inswinging corner that Nugent smacked against the angle of bar and post from 10 yards, much to his frustration.

A purple patch for City concluded eight minutes later, with Nugent dinking a cross to the awaiting Jeff Schlupp, who took the ball on his chest before hammering a shot into the turf that Speroni beat away

Palace's best efforts were all half-chances, with Jordon Mutch volleying comfortably wide from a Jason Puncheon corner in the first minute.

That was followed by Foxes skipper Wes Morgan blocking a goal-bound drive from James McArthur and Paul Konchesky clearing from underneath his own bar after a cross from Wilfried Zaha had spun off Danny Simpson.

Just before the break Morgan was involved in a nasty clash of heads with Scott Dann, who had been a tower of strength in the Palace back four.

It resulted in Dann's withdrawal at the interval and the introduction of Brede Hangeland, who played a key role in Palace taking the lead.

It was Hangeland at the far post who knocked a Dwight Gayle corner back into the heart of the six-yard box for Ledley to head home his fourth goal in Palace colours.

Inside two minutes, though, Ledley came close to going from hero to villain as his woeful back-pass allowed Ulloa to steal in.

With the angle too tight for him to tuck home, he instead pulled the ball back for fellow Argentinian Esteban Cambiasso.

But the former Inter Milan star fluffed his lines, failing to even get a shot away, to the despair of his team-mates and the agonised cries of the City fans inside the stadium.

City then dominated the remainder of the game, with Pearson throwing on Marc Albrighton, Kramaric and Jamie Vardy in search of a crucial equaliser.

The best chance arrived in the 82nd minute, with Mahrez whipping a free-kick into the near post for Vardy to glance goalwards, only for Speroni to again save his side before Kelly hacked clear.

And it was Speroni who had the last word, again proving defiant in the 89th minute with another superb stop after Vardy had run on to a through-ball from Mahrez.

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