Under-par Leicester fail to break down Fleetwood
League One side more than a match for former Premier League champions in FA Cup
Fleetwood Town fans set off a flare in the stands during the FA Cup third round match against Leicester. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters
Fleetwood Town 0 Leicester City 0
League One Fleetwood gave Leicester a real scare but the Premier League side escaped Highbury Stadium with a goalless draw in their FA Cup third round tie.
Ash Hunter’s deflected shot hit the post in the second minute of added time, rebounding on to goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic before hitting the post again. Jakupovic grabbed the loose ball and the visitors narrowly avoided the shock exit the television cameras present were hoping for.
The hosts, 12th in their table, comfortably held their own against a second-string Foxes starting line-up and, in truth, created the better chances.
On the positive side the sort of quirky sponsorship deal which typically crops up around the FA Cup third round meant the Cod Army’s goalkeeper Chris Neal finished the game with a year’s supply of pizza having been promised a month’s worth for every seven-and-a-half minutes he kept the Foxes at bay.
He barely had a save to make as the visitors’ multi-million pound forward line misfired.
Leicester made eight changes with no place in the squad for Jamie Vardy — who missed the New Year’s Day win over Huddersfield with a groin injury — on his return to Fleetwood or the likes of Riyad Mahrez.
However, they were still able to field £29million striker Islam Slimani and £27million Portugal midfielder Adrien Silva, given his first start having made his debut as a substitute on Monday following his long wait after a summer wrangle over his registration.
But despite enjoying the majority of possession the Premier League visitors could not create a genuine goal-scoring opportunity in the first half with Demarai Gray’s blast into the side-netting coming closest.
In fact the Foxes were closer to scoring in their own goal with Aleksandar Dragovic’s early blind back pass sending Jakupovic scrambling to keep the ball from rolling inside the near post.
Just before the hour Shinji Okazaki and Marc Albrighton were sent on in an attempt to change the game but Cian Bolger’s header just over from a corner and Markus Schwabl’s low drive were evidence Fleetwood’s threat had not diminished.
Slimani volleyed Grey’s cross into the side-netting, his last real action of the game as he was replaced by £25million former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho with 10 minutes remaining.
But it continued to be Fleetwood creating the better chances with Bolger again planting a header over before Hunter almost snatched it at the end.