Not only was I feeling sick as dog recently but I had to suffer the double whammy of also feeling sick as a parrot (if I can use such a sporting cliché!) after witnessing a heartbreaking end to Leicester City’s Championship Play Off hopes.
Back in February we looked odds on to be going straight up but then the slump of all slumps happened which saw us win only one out of 12 games going into the final game of the season on May 4th. Incredibly, despite such an appalling run of form we still had a chance of making the Play-Offs if we could just find something to win that final game. However, that game was at rivals Forest where we hadn’t won a league game for 40+ years and they were in pretty much the same position as us where a win could give them a Play-Off place. Expectations were fairly low but if football always offers one thing then its usually good old blind, fairthful optimism! Believe it or not that was rewarded as a last minute winner from Frenchman Knockaert saw us finally win at the City Ground in Nottingham and by miracle we actually sneaked into 6th place as Bolton messed up at home in their crucial game. Our 68 point tally was the lowest total ever for a side reaching the playoffs in a 24 team second tier so there was no doubt that we were fortunate to have limped over the line but the next two (three?!) games could have saved our season and brought us the riches that come with promotion to the Premier League.
So Watford came to the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Thursday night (9 May) and despite being ill I still got up at 3.30am to see the game and glad I did as Nugent’s 81st minute goal proved to be enough for us to take a one goal lead into the second leg at Vicarage Road on Sunday 12 May. Sadly, my celebrations of that winning goal were muted as I had no voice as was the same as Nugent cancelled out Watford’s spectacular opening goal. Thankfully this game kicked off at at a time that was decent for their one fan in Japan! The lunchtime kick off back home meant it was a nice 8.30pm start over here and to be fair Watford were the better side as we went in at the break level but leading on aggregate.
On the hour mark the home side levelled things overall, and with away goals counting for nothing in this game, the thought of extra time and penalties was to become more prevalent as the game entered a nervy last twenty minutes. I can’t even remember why but there was a somewhat lengthy spell of injury treatment as the 90 minutes came up and then incredibly Leicester were presented with an amazing opportunity to book their place at Wembley with 97 minutes on the clock. In all honesty it shouldn’t have been a penalty as Knockaert went down with all too much ease and having dusted himself down he was to be the one to take the glory.
What happened then was the stuff of nightmares as Almunia saved the kick and smothered the follow-up shot too but oh no that wasn’t it as Watford then charged upfield on the counter attack and when the floated cross from the right was nodded back and smashed home our hearts sank. If what makes football great can be summed up in a minute (or even 20 seconds!) of football then this was it.
The final whistle went seconds later bringing to an end our season in devastating fashion and yet again Nigel Pearson’s team had fallen just short with a French-mans penalty kick costing us as it had done two years ago albeit in slightly different circumstances this time.