ADAM Clayton’s superb second half strike and a solid defensive display gave Leeds United manager Simon Grayson a happy return to one of his former clubs on Sunday.
The Whites bounced back from the humiliation of the five-goal drubbing against Blackpool by beating managerless Leicester 1-0 and moved back up to seventh place in the Npower Championship.
Despite having to rejig his defence – with new on-loan signing Alex McCarthy in goals in place of Paul Rachubka and central defenders Tom Lees (suspended) and Darren O’Dea (injured) both missing – Leeds boss Grayson had every confidence in his team and was backed up by a display that kept big-spending Leicester at bay.
McCarthy was so well protected that he did not have a serious save to make on his United debut and Grayson was delighted with his defenders, particularly the recalled Andy O’Brien and Patrick Kisnorbo.
He said: “The two centre-halves have not played so much over recent weeks and months and they were outstanding.
“Andy O’Brien has been training really well and deserved his place in the team. He is a tough character and has worked hard. I backed him and he backed me with his performance.”
Grayson was also naturally pleased with the win.
He added: “I’m delighted. We’ve been at both ends of the spectrum with a 5-0 thumping and then this.
“Wednesday was difficult to take, but I got the response I expected. It was a really good team performance.
“We were dogged, resilient and created some good chances. Leicester are a good team and we showed we have a lot of character and spirit amongst the group.
“That performance doesn’t show me anything new. I see the players every day in training and nine out of 10 times we always seem to respond to disappointments.
“We had a 4-0 drubbing against Cardiff last season and then went on a long unbeaten run.”
Sunday’s game lacked much excitement, but saw Leeds deliver a professional performance with McCarthy’s involvement confined to fielding back passes, taking goal kicks and one tip over of Andy King cross-shot.
At the other end, Ross McCormack, who has now gone six games without a goal after finding the net 10 times in the early part of the season, wasted the first real opening when he shot over from 12 yards after an Aidan White cross fell to him. Danny Pugh then dragged a shot wide, but it was no surprise it was still goalless at half-time.
It took a great strike to break the deadlock as midfield man Clayton got forward in the 69th minute to curl a perfect shot past former team-mate Kasper Schmeichel from 25 yards.
Leicester sent on their £3million former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford, surprisingly on the bench at the start, but his arrival could not help the home side, who continue to stutter in a season in which they were favourites for promotion.
Leicester City 0
Leeds United 1
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Mills, Bamba, Konchesky, Gallagher (Schlupp 85), King, Wellens, Danns (Johnson 74), Howard (Beckford 74), Nugent.
Leeds: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, O’Brien (Bromby 75), White, Snodgrass, Clayton, Howson, Pugh, Keogh (Becchio 76), McCormack (Brown 86).
Referee: Oliver Langford.