Leicester promotion hopes dealt further blow at Plymouth

Mustapha Bundu’s superb strike midway through the first half was enough to secure a vital 1-0 victory for Championship strugglers Plymouth Argyle as leaders Leicester suffered another blow to their promotion hopes.

One point still separates the top three sides with Enzo Maresca’s side suffering a second away defeat in the space of four days having lost 1-0 at Millwall on Tuesday in similar circumstances.

On 21 minutes came the game’s key moment. Bundu collected Adam Forshaw’s pass out wide, cut inside Wout Faes and brilliantly found the far corner.

Plymouth director of football Neil Dewsnip told Sky Sports: “We’ve seen in training sometimes it goes into the stand, into the next field, but occasionally it’s gone in. Tonight, it was his night and he scored with a fantastic goal.”

Patson Daka, without a goal in nine games, was guilty of missing Leicester’s best chance shortly after the interval when he dragged wide from Abdul Fatawu’s cross before Julio Pleguezuelo was fortunate not to concede a penalty after tangling with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall inside the box.

Image: Leicester failed to pull away at the top

Goalkeeper Michael Cooper came to Argyle’s rescue in second-half injury time as he rushed out to smother at the feet of substitute Jamie Vardy, but Plymouth held on to secure their first home win since January and three vital points in their bid for survival.

The result means they move up to 16th on 48 points, five clear of the relegation zone. Leicester remain top of the Championship table but having now played the same number of games as rivals Ipswich Town and Leeds United, who can both leapfrog the Foxes when they play over the weekend.

“We’ve had pressure since we’ve started, we have four games left and three at home,” Leicester boss Enzo Maresca said afterwards. “Hopefully with our fans behind us we can reach our target.

How Foxes missed chance to move clear at top

Patson Daka reacts to a missed opportunity
Image: Patson Daka reacts to a missed opportunity

It only took five minutes for Leicester to test home goalkeeper Cooper as Fatawu’s thumping right-footed shot – following a flowing move – forcing him into a diving save low down to his left.

Ricardo Pereira was next to test Cooper, following a defence-splitting one-two with Wilfred Ndidi. Again it was all diving Cooper could do to parry the ball away.

Stephy Mavididi latched on to the aerial ball and headed it back across the goal, which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Argyle eventually clearing the ball.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was unable to inspire Leicester
Image: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was unable to inspire Leicester

Mavididi went close with a curling 13th-minute shot after being teed up by playmaker Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box. The attacking midfielder’s shot beat Cooper for pace but flew just past the post.

Totally against the run of play, Plymouth stunned their visitors with a 21st-minute goal on the counter.

Forshaw intercepted a Leicester attack and released recalled striker Bundu with a superb, measured pass through the middle of the park.

Bundu sprinted forward and – as he got into the penalty box – let fly with a fierce angled drive from the right that beat diving Mads Hermansen and rocketed into the far corner.

Plymouth Argyle's Mustapha Bundu (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Leicester
Image: Plymouth Argyle’s Mustapha Bundu celebrates

Harry Winks fired wide from 20 yards as Argyle failed to clear their lines following another City corner with the half-hour mark approaching.

Argyle’s next best chance fell to Bundu, after good work by Forshaw and substitute Joe Edwards, but this time the striker fired high over.

Cooper did well to save low at his near post as Dewsbury-Hall fired across the face of goal in the 44th minute from close range.

Cooper was again called into action early in the second half as he made another save, while Dewsbury-Hall tried his luck from 25 yards moments later.

James Justin was recalled by Enzo Maresca
Image: James Justin was recalled by Enzo Maresca

Central defender Dan Scarr did well to stoop and head a pacy Fatawu cross from the right away at the near post as Leicester continued to press for an equaliser.

Fatawu’s next cross from the right – after 56 minutes – found striker Daka and his deft near-post touch beat Cooper but spun past the far upright.

Daka’s last action was firing wide when well placed at the far post after 67 minutes. He was replaced by former England international striker Jamie Vardy.

With just over 15 minutes remaining, Wout Faes’ cross from the right was smashed towards goal by Mavididi but again, Cooper was equal to the effort.

Cooper made an even better stop, bravely diving in to deny Vardy as the Leicester striker broke into the box, one-on-one, in the 88th minute but the hosts held on for the much-needed victory.

The managers

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Plymouth Argyle director of football Neil Dewsnip was thrilled with the resilience his side showed as they secured a narrow 1-0 victory over table-toppers Leicester City

Plymouth director of football Neil Dewsnip told Sky Sports: “The voice is very much gone! My wife says not to shout anymore, so sorry Jane I must apologise.

“We’ve shown the country that we’re very difficult to beat and the crowd have shown how difficult it is to come to Home Park and when we’re all joined up we’re quite a force.

“Of course, we would like to have more of the ball but we have to accept that we are playing against an outstanding football team and sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and defend your goal with your life.

“We set out with a game plan and knew how we could win it while having a lot of defending to do. We had to shown resilience so we’re delighted.”

Leicester's form has spiralled in the last 10 games
Image: Leicester’s form has spiralled in the last 10 games

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca told Sky Sports: “I’ve always said the same thing. When you don’t create chances, you have to analyse and try to understand the reason why. But when you create chances, it happened tonight, the last game we lost too. But we lost again tonight, the good thing is it is still in our hands.

How important is it to keep the mental focus and resolve? “It’s very important. This is why we play the way we played tonight, why we created the chances we did. But in football, you have to take them. For different reasons we are not scoring many goals, and hopefully, we can in the next game.

“We don’t have any bonus, it’s still in our hands but we have to go again in the next game and win every game we have. The players gave everything for 95 minutes. They created chances, they played in the way we want to play, but at the end, we completely understand the fans – when we don’t win, they’re not happy. We understand.”

Player of the match – Dan Scarr

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Plymouth Argyle’s Dan Scarr and Michael Cooper were delighted after their hard-fought 1-0 Championship win over Leicester City eased their relegation worries

Plymouth defender Dan Scarr, who made a game-high six clearances, told Sky Sports:

“It’s a great atmosphere and the fans have always been behind us, through the bad times and the good. Today, they dragged us over the line, they were phenomenal.

“Kevin [Nancekivell] and Neil [Dewsnip] have been brilliant. They’ve rallied us all together and have been positive every step of the way. They’ve got belief in us and that’s all this group needs, just a little bit of belief.

“If we play like this, we can beat anybody.”

Source : Sky Sports