Superb first-half goals from Ivan Sproule and Cole Skuse brought the City a much-needed win at Leicester.
Following stinging criticism directed at manager Gary Johnson over the last few days, the Cockney was forced into finally picking players in their proper positions once again. And how it worked!
Bradley Orr made a long overdue return to right-back whilst Ivan Sproule, the only natural winger at the club, was restored to the wing. Lee Johnson and Marvin Elliott were the two to make way.
Leicester started brightly with Martin Waghorn and Paul Gallagher sending in teasing crosses in the early stages before one-time City target Richie Wellens missed the target from distance on 13.
City, looking more lively and potent on the counter attack than in recent weeks, nearly opened the scoring with Danny Haynes releasing Nicky Maynard who’s stabbed shot was blocked by the body of ex-City keeper Chris Weale.
The first goal was always going to be crucial in this encounter with both sides down on confidence and in need of a result.
City fans had their hearts in their mouths when Waghorn appeared to be tripped by Lewin Nyatanga inside the box but young ref Steve Cook waved away the appeals of the home side after consulting with his linesman.
The let off was just what City needed as the first goal arrived moments later on 19 minutes and it came in some style!
Ivan Sproule cut in from the right touchline and set off on a mazy run from the half-way line. Running at the backtracking Foxes defence at pace, the Ulsterman beat four men before lifting his angled shot over the despairing Weale for a superb individual goal.
Sproule was booked for whipping his shirt off in front of the delirious City fans in the corner and duly pointed to the sky in memory of his son who was still-born a few weeks ago.
Leicester hit back with Danny N’Guessan firing wide from 20-yards before Paul Hartley curled a free-kick from a similar distance just wide.
Then on 29 minutes came the game’s second moment of pure inspiration.
Restored to his best position in central midfield, Cole Skuse picked up the ball some 40-yards out and strode towards goal before unleashing an ferocious drive with left-foot swinger than flew into the top left-hand corner of the net.
It was a tremendous strike which shows exactly what the young Bristolian is capable of in his proper position.
The game petered out towards the interval and City, refreshingly continued to look comfortable in the second half.
Nyatanga fired harmlessly over and McAllister found the arms of Weale from a 25-yard free-kick before Fontaine glanced wide from a corner on 66.
The Foxes introduced their top-scorer Matty Fryatt at the expense of N’Guessan 2 minutes later as they sought a route back into the game.
Referee Cook ignored more penalty appeals from the home team, this time against Fontaine for an apparent hand ball and from that moment City launched a speedy counter-attack that effectively killed the game with 15 minutes left.
The impressive Skuse picked up the pieces and sped away through midfield before slipping in a perfectly weighted through-ball for Evander Sno to curl his low shot past Weale and into the bottom corner.
To compound a miserable evening for the Foxes, Waghorn was given his marching orders for a frustrated lunge at McAllister on 79.
In a rapidly emptying Walkers Stadium, Matty Fryatt raced onto a long punt from Weale and outpaced the water-treading McCombe to fire past Gerkin for a stoppage-time consolation.
But the night belonged to City and the 576 hardy souls that made the trip. More of the same please!
LEICESTER 4-4-2: Weale, Morrison, Brown, Hobbs, McGivern, Oakley, King, Wellens, N’Guessan (Fryatt 68), Waghorn, Gallagher.
CITY 4-3-3: Gerkin, Orr, Fontaine, Nyatanga, McAllister (McCombe 83), Skuse, Sno (Johnson 85), Hartley (Elliott 78), Sproule, Haynes, Maynard.
REFEREE: Steve Cook (Surrey)
* Match ratings provided by Will Collins of Thornbury, South Gloucs.
Dean Gerken 5
Looked lucky not to give away a penalty in the first half and looked at fault for Leicester`s goal. Other than that not much to do all night.
Bradley Orr 7
Dependable as always, gave the City defence some much needed balance on the right.
Jamie McAllister 6
A relatively quiet night, sturdy tackling and was the victim of a horrific challenge from Waghorn at the end.
Liam Fontaine 7
Strong in the air, strong on the ground.
Lewin Nyatanga 6
Distribution poor at times but won a lot of aerial battles.
Cole Skuse 8
Restored to his customary central midfield and produced a cracking goal, an assist, an all round excellent performance full of maturity.
Evander Sno 8
Seemed to be playing more of an central role and how he excelled, played some quality through balls that Maynard should`ve read better. Strong in the tackle and in the air, my man of the match.
Paul Hartley 7
Looked a bit off the pace at times with his second game in four days but a typically canny and astute performance from the veteran Scot.
Ivan Sproule 8
Scored one of the finest individual goals by a City player in recent memory in an awesome first half performance. Faded in the second though.
Nicky Maynard 6
Not at the races. Perhaps not ideal for him being up front on his tod but should`ve done better with some good service.
Danny Haynes 7
Ran his socks off all night and did a good job giving City some much needed width.
Marvin Elliott 5
Added a bit of steal to the midfield as Hartley tired.
Jamie McCombe 4
Found treading water for Leicester’s consolation but luckily it didn’t matter this time as the game was won.
Little time to make an impact.
GARY JOHNSON – 6/10
Stung into making positive changes to the team following Saturday’s debacle, his, or assistant Keith Millen’s, team selection was bold and had the width we all craved. So it comes as no surprise it paid off. The substition’s were the only blot on the record tonight as McCombe was responsible for not keeping a clean sheet.
NIGEL PEARSON – 4/10
Was surprised to see their top-scorer Matty Fryatt out of the starting XI but the Foxes’ confidence was clearly frail after the thumping Forest gave them last weekend.
More Of The Same Please…
At last! Johnson picked players in their best positions, played with much more width than of late and was rewarded for it.
Hopefully this side will get a run in the team now and have a go at sides. It’s inevitable we’ll lose a few games along the way but at least we won’t have died wondering what could’ve been as long as we have a go. It’s not too much to ask is it?