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Leicester crowned champions

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22 Apr 2014 21:16:54

Leicester crowned champions

Leicester clinched the Sky Bet Championship title at the Reebok Stadium with Lloyd Dyer coming off the bench to net a fabulous winner in a 1-0 victory over Bolton.

The Foxes, who have maintained their position at the division's summit since before Christmas, were promoted earlier this month and, despite a heavy loss to Brighton, they immediately set their sights on securing silverware.

Second-placed Burnley's win on Easter Monday, which saw the Clarets grab the other automatic promotion spot, meant Nigel Pearson's men needed three points against Wanderers to wrap up the title.

And after dominating large spells of the contest against a team with little to play for, Dyer arrived from the bench to rifle home a fine strike just after the hour.

With Bolton safely tucked in the middle of the division's pack, it gave boss Dougie Freedman a perfect opportunity to experiment with his team.

Teenage defender Hayden White was given a full debut in a five-man defence while the bench was largely filled with players yet to feature for Wanderers' first team. White, 19, was certainly given a tough examination early on as Foxes winger Riyad Mahrez enjoyed oceans of space on the left flank.

Andy King had a shot deflected off target while Anthony Knockaert also fired wide after a one-two sent Mahrez to the byline. The Frenchman then drifted inside and unleashed a swerving shot which Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bodgan just about shovelled wide.

At the other end a wonderful reverse pass from captain Jay Spearing gave Lukas Jutkiewicz the chance to shoot, yet the on-loan forward elected to pull the trigger when off balance and made a mess of the attempt.

For the remainder of the half it continued to be one-way traffic down Leicester's left with David Nugent unable to get great purchase on Mahrez's cross before the visitors' dangerman twice cut inside and skewed efforts off target.

It had seemed a matter of when, rather than if, the league leaders would score and they very nearly got a helping hand when Zat Knight, under no duress, headed inches over his own crossbar.

Freedman had seen enough of Mahrez's marauding runs as he hauled White off for ex-Leicester striker Jermaine Beckford at the break and reverted to a more accustomed back four.

That did not stop the wave of Foxes attacks, though, as Knockaert's rasping drive was pushed behind by Bogdan. Nigel Pearson brought Mahrez off 10 minutes after the interval while Andy King was also sacrificed in a double switch for Dyer and Chris Wood.

Bolton were now built to counter and the energetic Lee Chung-yong scampered away down the left before picking out Jutkiewicz to steer wide of the mark. The 25-year-old would come closer still after running half the length of the pitch and clipping a shot just beyond Kasper Schmeichel's far post.

It would prove to be a particularly costly miss as, just 36 seconds later, Leicester went ahead. Dyer cut in from the left flank and smashed a right-footed drive which soared into the top corner.

The hosts looked to hit back immediately and ex-Leicester striker Beckford had more time than he realised when lashing a half volley into the crowd. On that occasion the ball had fallen kindly for the Wanderers substitute and Jutkiewicz too benefited from some fortune with Schmeichel able to claw his low poke away.

Still Freedman's side looked to strike on the break with Beckford sauntering through only to prod a tame effort at Leicester's Danish stopper.

Freedman introduced debutants Andrew Kellett and Chris Lester to proceedings and aside from a Wood strike which Bogdan kept out, the contest would peter out before the final whistle blew and the champions banners were brought out.


PA

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