Our first away match in the league follows on from our League Cup victory.
Date: Saturday 13th August 2016
Opponent: Leicester City
Venue: King Power Stadium
Odds: Leicester City=Evens (favourites), Draw=11/5, Exeter City=11/5
Weather: Dry, 19C
Referee: Mr Anthony Taylor
With the return to league action, there are plenty of faces that return to the starting XI, including Jagos Vukovic, who makes his 75th league appearance for us. Loic Fournier retains his place in midfield, giving him his league debut for us. In the third minute, McGowan shoots from 25 yards. Jonathan Bond is behind the ball, but he spills it and we’re able to clear it for a throw-in. Bond is beaten in the tenth minute, but Schlupp’s shot from 20 yards hits the crossbar. Leicester continue with the pressure and find the net in the 20th minute. Fortunately for us, it’s the side-netting as an outswinging Guthrie corner is met by Afobe’s head 6 yards out at the near post. I change tactics in the 24th minute, with Michel dropping back into central midfield and Fournier dropping back to become a defensive midfielder as I try to stop the constant pressure on our goal. It does succeed in limiting Leicester’s chances, although they continue to win throw-ins that McGowan hurls into the box. In the 41st minute, Mills flicks a ball on at the near post and it goes in from 3 yards out to give Leicester the lead. We have a chance to level before half-time, but Dacian Varga’s shot from 18 yards goes wide.
Varga has the first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute when he is played in by Jonny Hayes, but Schmeichel is off his line quickly and saves at the expense of a corner. Ten minutes later, Michel bursts into the area and shoots from 18 yards, but Schmeichel is alert again and concedes another corner. This sparks a change of tactics, with Fournier going back to central midfield and Michel going back to attacking midfield as we chase the equaliser. I make my first substitution in the 71st minute as midweek hat-trick hero Will Keane comes on for Varga; Keane goes up front and Federico Cenci moves to attacking left wing. The change is followed by another chance a minute later, but it’s Leicester’s first chance of note of the second half as Gislasson shoots from 12 yards. Bond parries the shot and we clear it for a throw-in. I make another change in the 80th minute with Ryan Mason coming on for Michel, but we don’t create anything else of note and Leicester hold on. It was a match that was like an end of season game between two teams with nothing to play for and it took us a long time to get going and even when we did, we didn’t look all that great, so it seems as though I’ve got some work ahead.
Result: Leicester City 1-0 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Mills
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.7); DR-Rentea (6.8); DCR-Berger (7.0); DCL-Vukovic (6.8); DL-Riccardi (6.8); MCR-Matip (6.8) MCL-Fournier (6.8); AMR-Hayes (6.9); AMC-Michel (6.7, off 80); AML-Varga (6.3, off 71); ST-Cenci (6.6). Subs-Keane (6.4, on 71); Mason (on 80). Unused-Spasov, King, Spearing
League Position: 12th
Alessandro Torrente, the manager of Torino, was one of the 27,600 in attendance and the rumours in the media are that he was watching Federico Cenci. Following Cenci’s performance against Leicester, it’s unlikely that any bid will follow, but we’re going to need him to play better than that for us. Oxford United offer to loan Nathan Holland for 5 months and I agree and he joins them. Cremonese offer to loan Adolfo Mannino for the season and I accept their offer, but he rejects the move to them. I also receive a loan offer for Rob McNally for 5 months from Bristol Rovers and I accept the offer and he agrees to join them. There is bad news for Jonathan Bond, who injures his chest in training and will be out for around 2 weeks.