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Nick Szczepanik's press verdict: Leicester City

Reaction from the media following Tuesday evening's impressive 0-0 draw at the King Power Stadium.

By Nick Szczepanik • 24 June 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Alexis Mac Allister made his first Premier League start on Tuesday.

One team is usually happier with a draw than the other, and Jordan Blackwell of the Leicester Mercury summed that up in the intro to his match report of Albion’s hard-won point away to Leicester City.  

‘Midway through the second half, the cameras inside the empty King Power Stadium cut to injured right-back Ricardo Pereira in the stands,’ he wrote.  ‘He was yawning. 

‘In a single moment, that summed up the 90 minutes on Filbert Way as Leicester City returned home for the first time in three months.

‘Like they did with the draw at Watford, they will see the stalemate with Brighton as two points dropped in the race for a Champions League space.’

02:13

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Highlights: Leicester 0 Albion 0

Albion, though, are more likely to see it as a point gained, despite Neal Maupay’s failure to beat Kasper Schmeichel from the penalty spot in the first half.

And the national newspapers, although mostly concentrating on the Foxes’ bid for a Champions League berth, found plenty to admire in the performance of the men in green and black – especially the young players.

Craig Hope of the Daily Mail wrote of Leicester that ‘gone is the adventure of autumn and, in its place, is a ponderous offence seemingly sapped of energy and ideas beneath this summer sun.

‘Brighton, by contrast, had a pair of forwards in Maupay and Aaron Connolly who buzzed about their hosts and it was the latter who earned their 14th-minute spot-kick.

‘Aaron Mooy dropped a ball in behind for Connolly to chase and his scurrying brought a clumsy foul from James Justin.

‘Schmeichel, though, was equal to Maupay's low blast as he recorded the 22nd penalty save of his career - an impressive ratio when you consider that accounts for more than a third of the 60 he has faced.

‘Leicester defender Jonny Evans found himself stranded on his kitchen roof this week when attempting to tackle a pigeon problem at his family home.

‘But it was Connolly the pest he had to contend with here and the Irish forward came mightily close when scurrying through the middle of Leicester's defence only for Caglar Soyuncu to deflect wide his measured curler.’ 

02:49

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Potter's Leicester Verdict

Paul Doyle of The Guardian wrote that ‘Brendan Rodgers’s team … were second best for long spells.

‘As a manager who has the courage of his convictions, Graham Potter has never been spooked by the spectre of relegation.

'That was plain from his team selection here, a sign of the Brighton manager’s confidence in the young talent in his ranks: three of the newcomers were aged 21 or under. Right-back Tariq Lamptey was the most impressive of the trio, but midfielder Alexis Mac Allister and forward Aaron Connolly also enjoyed bright moments.

'Potter’s approach was vindicated by a first half in which Brighton were perkier, sharper and smarter than their high-flying hosts, who looked tactically flummoxed as Brighton buzzed around them. The chief frustration for the visitors was that they failed to translate their superiority into a lead before the break.

‘The way the spot-kick came about reflected Brighton’s greater vivacity. Aaron Mooy dropped a teasing pass from deep over the top of the home defence, and James Justin looked well positioned to get to it first but failed to make a decisive intervention, instead tangling untidily with the pesky Connolly.

‘Brighton had to defend well in the last quarter of an hour and that is exactly what they did, snuffing out crosses and blocking shots with under only moderate duress.

01:44

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Lamptey's Debut Delight

John Percy of the Daily Telegraph also noted that Albion ‘fielded the club’s youngest ever starting line-up in a match at this level, with an average age of 25 years and 182 days.

‘Tariq Lamptey, a 19-year-old right-back signed from Chelsea in January, made his first league start and was the most impressive performer on the pitch, epitomising the enterprise and resilience of the visiting team.

‘The second half was a virtual non-event and apart from Brighton’s late escape from conceding a penalty, they were untroubled and deserved a point to inch them further away from the dreaded dotted line.

‘Potter said, “We are still fighting, we have to fight all the way. We have to focus on the next match against Manchester United and we can use the time to recover. From the last two games, you can see we are ready for the fight.

‘We defended as a team but I am proud of the performance, endeavour and work rate to keep a clean sheet.’

Henry Winter of The Times joined the chorus of praise for Albion’s debutant right back. 

‘Tariq Lamptey’s full debut at right back was a performance of real maturity, whether in the timing of his runs at and occasionally beyond Ben Chilwell, or his anticipation in covering for his centre backs and seeing off Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Pérez with a combination of pace and composure.

Still only 19, Lamptey looks a real prospect, and a smart recruit from Chelsea. The England Under-20 international is certainly tough, playing on after a nasty whack to the face.

‘“You can see his attributes, he’s got great speed, competed well in his position, great courage because he took a heavy smash to the face, needed stitches during the game,” said Graham Potter, the Brighton head coach.

‘Potter’s side were far brighter, more dynamic. Maybe Saturday’s victory over Arsenal had strengthened their confidence and those three points added to their belief.

They were organised, and very youthful: Potter started five players aged 23 or younger.

When Dan Ashworth joined as technical director from the FA after the 2018 World Cup, he wanted to increase the flow of young talent towards the first team, partly from the academy, partly through judicious recruitment, all part of the owner Tony Bloom’s ambition to make the club a sustainable business in the Premier League.

‘The insertion of Lamptey and 21-year-old Alexis Mac Allister, whose father Carlos helped Argentina to reach the 1994 World Cup and boasts Fife roots, were exciting moves by Potter. Mac Allister was soon showing his attacking deliveries, taking responsibility for dead balls, demonstrating his touch when controlling an awkward driven ball from Dale Stephens.’

And it was not only in Leicester and Brighton that Lamptey’s performance was noticed. Football London wrote that ‘Lamptey had only made his Premier League debut for Chelsea a month earlier in their 2-1 win over Arsenal, but the 19-year-old decided to leave for increased playing opportunities.

‘And he was handed a start by Graham Potter as Brighton travelled to Leicester on Tuesday evening.

‘Despite facing the likes of James Maddison, Kelechi Iheanacho and Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy, Lamptey was highly impressive throughout as Brighton managed to keep a rare clean sheet on the road.

‘Leicester struggled to create many clear cut opportunities, and Lamptey played his part in nullifying Brendan Rodgers' side.’

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