Sunday, 29 January 2012

Leicester City - King Power Stadium

Leicester City FC
King Power Stadium
Filbert Way

0844 815 6000
Official Website

Matchday Number: 188
Satiurday 28th January 2012
Leicester City 2-0 Swindon Town
FA Cup 4th Round

As soon as I saw that Leicester or Notts Forest would be at home to Swindon in the FA Cup 4th Round, I was rooting for the Foxes, as I had yet to visit the King Power Stadium. It would mean missing Wycombe's game at Brentford, but seeing as the decision was made in the wake of Wycombe's 6-0 defeat to Huddersfield, the decision was made easier for me. I got my wish, as Leicester trounced Forest in the replay and so I ordered a £20 ticket from the Leicester City website.

On the day, I had to work from 5-9am as they were short of staff, but after getting changed, going shopping and making the journey up the motorway, I was parked up by 11.40. There is a local road called Upperton Road which is near the ground and offers free street parking. The ground is about 5-10 minutes away from there. I walked into the city centre to meet my mate Jack at the train station, but first to have a look around some shops as his train was not due until 12.50. After we met up, we headed off for some lunch (I had meat samosa and chips) before another quick look around some shops before setting off for the stadium. We got there about 2 and had a look around the megastore and the programme shop before going into the ground. I watched West Bromwich Albion v Cardiff City in the previous round, and although this game wasn't as good as that one, it was still fairly decent, as this report from The Guardian website testifies.

Two goals from Jermaine Beckford took Leicester City into the last 16 of the FA Cup and inflicted a rare setback on Paolo Di Canio's valiant Swindon Town.
Promotion from their respective leagues is the priority for these teams but both managers belong to the school of thought that positive momentum, which is so difficult to generate, is not a force to be willingly interrupted. They both started with their strongest available lineups, Leicester making no changes to the side who recorded emphatic victories over Nottingham Forest and Southampton in their past two outings.
The Championship side started as if determined to demonstrate that their strongest side were far superior to anything that the League Two team could muster. Exhibit A was presented after five minutes, when Leicester took a lead that their early pressure warranted. Richie Wellens seized on a weak clearance following a corner and drove the ball back into the Swindon box. Matt Mills took it under his control before teeing up Beckford to sweep into the net from seven yards.
Beckford, who scored to knock out Manchester United when he was at Leeds United and struck a hat-trick against Forest in the last round, clearly relishes this competition. His afternoon was to get even better.
But not before Swindon asserted their own qualities. Di Canio's side had fallen behind to Wigan in the last round before staging a memorable comeback and, having won five and drawn one of their six matches since then, soon showed that they were confident they could do the same here. Playing the familiar brand of tidy and incisive football that is rapidly becoming a trademark under Di Canio, they began to regularly torment their hosts, particularly down the right flank where Paul Caddis and Matt Ritchie combined to menacing effect. Only desperate defending and inaccurate finishing prevented them from being level, at least, by half-time.
Kasper Schmeichel did well to repel a header from Alan Connell in the 21st minute and, four minutes later, did the same to deny Paul Benson.
The goalkeeper looked less assured moments later when he could only beat a Connell shot on to the crossbar. And Schmeichel needed to be rescued by Sean St Ledger when Connell bundled a cross from Alessandro Cibocchi past him moments later, the centre-back clearing off the line before Paul Konchesky deflected Ritchie's follow-up over.
Cibocchi himself nearly equalised on the stroke of half-time but Schmeichel tipped over his 25-yard free-kick.
Leicester improved in the second half and the cost of all the visitors' misses became prohibitive in the 53rd minute when Beckford scored his second goal, slamming into the net from six yards after Caddis had blocked a cross from David Nugent. A fine save from Wes Foderingham in the 76th minute prevented Nugent from making it 3-0.
Swindon never wilted but nor did they regain their first-half verve and a Benson header wide in the 70th minute was the closest they came to cutting the deficit.

After the game, we walked back to the car, though it took longer than expected, as we took a wrong turn and ended up walking in a massive circle, doubling the walking time. After dropping Jack off at the train station, I made my way back home, getting in at about 8. Wycombe had lost 5-2 at Brentford whilst I had been at this game and so I had more than a few drinks to drown my sorrows after reading how abject I was. The way I felt in the morning, I wish I'd just gone straight to bed, not good having just a few hours sleep when you are up at 4am for a hard shift at work!

THE KING POWER STADIUM is another new build ground, like so many others that have been put up in the past 10-20 years. Location wise it isn't bad, being 20 minutes walk from the City Centre. There are also quite a few pubs and takeaways around as it is not far from their former home of Filbert Street, nor the City's Rugby Team Leicester Tigers' Welford Road ground. There is a large megastore at the ground, and unusually a shop selling old programmes in the supporters club. Even though they only stock Leicester City ones, it is still worth a visit, as there are very few left in modern football. Inside the ground itself is nice enough. Opened in 2002 and with a capacity of 32,500, this is a typical new build stadium, offering good views and legroom, but lacking some of the character of the older stadiums. Away fans are located in one corner of the ground, near where the few Leicester "singers" go, though on my visit, they didn't make a lot of noise. There are decent sized TV scoreboards in each corner and uniquely you can even access the megastore throughout the game if you sit in the family stand. 

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