FA Cup, Fourth Round
Leicester City held on to earn a narrow victory over battling Championship promotion-chasers Brentford.
It was a 4th minute goal that kicked off Saturday’s game at Griffin Park. James Justin picked up a superb Leicester through ball from the back, and his cross found Kelechi Iheanacho, who duly tapped home to score.
Thereafter Leicester began to press Brentford, pinning the Bees into their own half for most of the opening fifteen minutes. Thomas Frank’s side was largely bullied out of play, and any attempts to attack were quickly stifled by the Leicester defence.
Yet for all Leicester’s pressure, Brentford edged their way into the game after 15 minutes. By the 30-minute mark both sides were throwing men forward, wingers carrying the ball some way along both flanks. Leicester’s Mark Albrighton found himself in space on the wing several times after making some good runs, only to be ignored by his teammates.
But despite Leicester’s bright start, it was Brentford who were ramping up the pressure by the 40th minute, and they began the second half much stronger than before. Yet on several occasions, Brentford’s probing forward balls found nothing but empty space, and most of their corners were poorly taken. One corner ball sailed over everyone’s heads to bounce out of play on the far side of the pitch.
But perhaps this lack of attacking quality was to be expected. Brentford’s usual attacking trio of Ollie Watkins, Byran Mbeumo and Said Benrahama – who have proved so crucial to the side’s league successes – were absent for Saturday’s cup tie. Whilst Brentford looked threatening going forward, they never really looked like scoring.
Yet the spirited Bees kept pressing for an equaliser. What looked to be a cross from Emiliano Marcondes passed everyone in the final third but ricocheted off Leicester’s right post. Some minutes later, only a fingertip save from Foxes goalkeeper Danny Ward kept out a well-struck Luka Racic volley. But in the last ten minutes Leicester fought their way back into the game, though ultimately they failed to add to their narrow advantage.
Well-fought as this FA Cup tie was, now both managers will be looking forward to next week’s crucial fixtures. Brentford face playoff rivals Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, and Leicester play Aston Villa in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final on the same day. Both are fixtures crucial to each side’s campaign, and with each first XI now fully rested must surely be viewed as must-win games for both Brentford and Leicester.