FULL-TIME: Blackburn Rovers 1 Leicester City 1

First published in Sport
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This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Blackburn Rovers reporter

MATT Kilgallon’s first goal for Rovers ended leaders Leicester’s four-match winning run on a thrilling afternoon at Ewood Park.

Jamie Vardy put Nigel Pearson’s table-toppers, who are now unbeaten in 17 games, in front in the 20th minute when he turned in a Ritchie de Laet cross.

And they looked to be taking a deserved lead into half-time until Kilgallon headed in a corner from man-of-the-match Craig Conway two minutes before the break.

After levelling somewhat against the run of play Rovers were more than a match for the impressive Foxes in an enthralling, wonderfully entertaining second half in which both teams had a host of chances to snatch the three points.

After an even start it was unchanged Leicester who showed first when David Nugent, finding space in the middle of the park, advanced before threading a neat pass behind the home defence and through to his strike-partner.

But just when it seemed Vardy would have a free strike on goal, Foxes old boy Michael Keane got back brilliantly to block his effort and divert it safely into Paul Robinson’s arms.

It was a straightforward save for the former England number one.

But he was truly tested when the recalled Adam Henley – who endured a torrid first half and went off on a stretcher with an ankle injury after an improved second – played a poor pass to Nugent whose 20-yard curler was heading for the top corner until Robinson clawed it away.

The ball was never cleared, however, and after de Laet burst into the box and pulled the ball back across the face of the goal, there was Vardy to nudge home.

Rovers had an immediate chance to equalise.

But after stand-in skipper Jordan Rhodes brought down a long ball, Kasper Schmeichel was equal to the 20-goal striker’s effort, superbly palming it away.

Leicester, buzzing with confident and boasting pace and movement across the pitch, should have doubled their advantage in the 31st minute when an angled pass from Bacup-born Matty James caught Henley out and allowed Riyad Mahrez to fire over a low cross which Vardy could only scoop over under pressure from Kilgallon.

It proved a costly miss as after the Foxes needlessly gave away a corner, Conway swung the ball over for Kilgallon to flash a fine header into the net despite the best efforts of Anthony Knockaert on the line to hack it clear.

Rovers, clearly buoyed, ended the first half strongly, came faster out of the traps after the restart too, and may have gone in front had Rhodes not inadvertently blocked a goal-bound header from Rudy Gestede following another inviting Conway corner.

Soon after Vardy found himself clean through on goal.

The forward skipped past Robinson but with the goal at his mercy, incredibly he could only side-foot against the post with the rebound just evading the waiting Nugent.

Despite the let-off it was Leicester who were rocking – with Conway their chief tormentor.

Firstly the winger showed superb skill to skip past de Laet and send over a cross that the excellent Keane could only knock over from almost underneath the crossbar.

Then Conway side-footed straight at Schmeichel after a cross from full debutant Liam Feeney found its way to the back post.

The bargain £100,000 buy should have scored but he nearly made amends when his corner was flicked on by Gestede to the back post where Kilgallon could only head into the side-netting.

Foxes boss Pearson made a double change in a bid to swing the momentum back in his side’s favour.

It appeared to work as, after James blazed over after a long throw-in broke to him in the area, Tommy Spurr somehow headed off the line from Mahrez after Robinson had denied Nugent from close range.

Rovers then survived another major scare after Lee Williamson gave the ball away in midfield.

Leicester broke with pace and Danny Drinkwater should have scored after Vardy had pulled the ball back to him.

Although Gestede stung the hands of Schmeichel from 25 yards, it proved the last real opening of what grew into a fantastic advert for the Champioship – although Jordan had a big penalty appeal turned down in the seven added minutes of injury-time.

Rovers: Robinson, Henley (Kane 87), Keane, Kilgallon, Spurr, Feeney (Taylor 77), Williamson (King 90), Evans, Conway, Rhodes, Gestede. Subs not used: Eastwood, Dunn, Olsson, Varney.

Booked: Kilgallon.

Goal: Kilgallon 43.

Leicester: Schmeichel, de Laet (Moore 63), Morgan, Wasilewski, Schlupp, Knockaert (Hammond 62), Drinkwater, James (King 76), Mahrez, Vardy, Nugent. Subs not used: Logan, Taylor-Fletcher, Phillips, Wood.

Booked: Schmeichel.

Goal: Vardy 20.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton.

Attendance: 16,528.

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