Leicester City 2-1 Coventry City: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall inspires a late turnaround for the Foxes as they start their Championship campaign off to a winning start in Enzo Maresca’s first game in charge
- Leicester began their Championship campaign with a 2-1 win over Coventry
- Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s two goals were enough after Kyle McFadzean’s opener
- It was former Manchester City assistant Enzo Maresca’s first game in charge of the Foxes.
With 15 minutes remaining and the home fans growing restless, Enzo Maresca must have longed to pose for photos with Pep Guardiola again after Manchester City’s treble victory, a celebratory cigar between his lips.
Leicester’s new head coach had watched his team fall behind under Kyle McFadzean’s header early in the second half and breathed a sigh of relief as Coventry missed chance after chance to clinch the game.
Because there’s no hiding when you’re the boss, Enzo. None of Pep’s reflected glory to be enjoyed when his team defend as an XI of pub veterans after a heavy night.
But then Leicester’s Premier League quality came to their rescue. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall headed in a glorious cross from substitute Dennis Praet in the 75th minute.
Then, seconds after Coventry substitute Haji Wright hit the bar, Dewsbury-Hall scored Leicester’s second three minutes from full time.
Leicester City began their Championship life with a 2-1 win over Coventry
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was the hero as he scored twice late on to secure all three points.
It was the perfect start to Enzo Maresca’s tenure after taking office in the summer
Though perhaps they got a bit lucky after Coventry missed several chances at fault.
Maresca leaped into the arms of his backroom team and Leicester’s bid for an immediate return to the Premier League got off to a winning start.
Yet for all of Maresca’s interesting talk about playing philosophies and all of his inferior to Guardiola tactical maneuvers, the only thing every successful manager needs is a bit of luck, and Maresca had a big part of it here. .
“The fans want us to play fast but going fast doesn’t mean creating more chances or attacking better,” said Maresca when asked about the frustration in the stands.
“Our idea is not to go slow, but when you are 1-0 down and the opponent does not give you space, you try to slow down.
‘I can understand the fans, but we need them to understand that this is our idea. In the first half the team showed what we were looking for.’
James Maddison and Harvey Barnes had left since relegation for a combined fee of almost £80m and Maresca will want to invest more than the £30m he has already spent.
It felt significant that a number of Leicester’s Premier League campaigners were left on the bench here.
Leicester City (3-2-4-1): Hermansen 8; Faes 5, Vestergaard 5, Doyle 5; Pereira 6, Winks 6.5; McAteer 6.5 (Choudhury 90), Ndidi 6 (Praet 62, 7), Dewsbury-Hall 8, Mavididi 7; Vardy 5.5 (Iheanacho 75).
unused substitutes: Stolarczyk, Justin, Albrighton, Souttar, Choudhury, Daka, Praet, Castagne.
Goal scorer: Dewsbury Hall 75, 87
Reserved: Vestergaard, Doyle
Manager: Enzo Maresca 6
Coventry City (3-4-1-2): Wilson 6; Thomas 7, McFadzean 7, Latibeaudiere 7; Eccles 6.5 (Van Ewijk 71, 6), Hamer 7.5 (Kelly 71, 6), Sheaf 6.5, Dasilva 6; Palmer 6.5 (Sakamoto 90); Godden 4, Simms 5 (Wright 71, 6.5).
unused substitutes: Collins, Binks, Sakamoto, Bidwell, Howley, Obikwu
Goalscorers: McFadzean 47
Reserved: Sheaf, Palmer
Manager: Mark Robins 7
The Sky Blues were hoping to bounce back from losing in last season’s play-off final to Luton.
They started well and took the lead when defender Kyle McFadzean headed in.
It was an open and close match between the two East Midlands based teams.
Leicester moved the ball well enough during the opening exchanges, but Coventry were one of the best defensive teams in the division last season.
The Sky Blues lost on penalties to Luton in the play-off final and also lost star striker Viktor Gyokeres to Sporting Lisbon over the summer.
“There is a lot of Manchester City in Leicester’s moves and game changes,” Coventry manager Mark Robins said.
“They have players of the quality of the Premier League and in the end it showed, but we had chances and if we had gone 2-1 up, they would not have come back.”
Coventry regularly threatened with debutants Bobby Thomas and Ellis Simms closing in, so it came as no real surprise when they moved to the front shortly after half time.
Simms had already squandered a glorious opportunity seconds before McFadzean moved away from Wilfred Ndidi to head Gustavo Hamer’s excellent corner at the near post, with new Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen close to his line.
After that Coventry had chances to win more than one game. Matt Godden volleyed straight at Hermansen and the forward then missed twice as he was tagged clean.
By now the home fans were booing as Hermansen stopped on the ball, but they were on their feet with 15 minutes remaining when Praet’s cross pass was met with a firm header down from Dewsbury-Hall.
Coventry returned. As a substitute, his new £7m striker Haji Wright’s deflected shot was flicked over the bar by Hermansen and Godden deflected the rebound away.
Coventry had to pay moments later when impressive new signing Stephy Mavididi found Dewsbury-Hall in space inside the box and the finish was outstanding.
It was a revamped Leicester squad with former England player Harry Winks one of four debutants.
The Foxes had their Premier League quality to thank for the late-game turnaround.