A 74th minute strike from James Constable was enough to deny Leicester victory in the Foxes’ latest friendly. Constable’s left-foot finish from 10 yards cancelled out an excellent 25-yard free kick from DJ Campbell in an entertaining game at the Kassam Stadium
This time next month City will have three league games under their belt, and this match provided encouraging signs for the travelling Leicester fans. City started in a familiar 4-4-2 but less recognisable was the sight of DJ Campbell on the left wing, with Lloyd Dyer stationed on the right. The inside-out wingers almost provided instant results. On five minutes Dyer cut inside his marker to fire a left-foot shot off the far post.
Nicky Adams, once again at right-back, was given ample opportunity to break forward, allowing in turn Dyer to come inside without City sacrificing width. The fruits of this policy nearly paid off as Dyer latched on to a Howard header on 18 minutes, only to timidly nod the ball into the arms of Clarke.
On 25 minutes it was Campbell’s turn to shine. Largely out of the game until this point, he casually curled a 25-yeard free-kick over the wall and past the despairing grasp of Clarke. But despite his goal, it was clear Campbell was not enjoying his time on the left wing. Almost immediately following his goal Campbell switched to the right flank and enjoyed a much more productive half.
Throughout the first period City were keeping the ball nicely, playing passes from the back and rarely resorting to the long ball. Indeed, such was the strength of City’s passing start that Steve Howard barely got a look in. His main contribution to the half was to block a goalbound Andy King shot after Matty Fryatt had snatched the ball on the halfway line. Fryatt too was subdued, failing to deliver a telling finish despite a number of opportunities. His tame first time shot from 6 yards on the half-hour mark typified his afternoon.
Meanwhile the back line looked solid for the opening 45 minutes, only Jack Hobbs’ spooned clearance over the bar seven minutes before half time made Chris Weale sweat.
After half-time, a much different match played out. City were on the back foot early, as Chris Weale lost out in an aerial challenge and, having failed to win a free-kick, could only watch as the ball was struck wide with the goal gaping.
The comfortable possession football was replaced with a much more careless regard for the ball. In fairness, some of this was down to the much-improved pressing from the home side. But all too often City players found themselves caught in possession, struggling to find the same options that had been available in the first half.
Meanwhile the policy of allowing Nicky Adams the freedom to find the opposition touchline as often as his own inevitably caught the former Bury man out of position on occasions. In Adams’ defence it was Tom Parkes, a centre-half filling in at left-back after coming on for the excellent Bruno Berner, who was guilty of positional indiscipline for Oxford’s equaliser.
City still had chances to win it. Lloyd Dyer, having swapped flanks for the third time, was put through by Fryatt only to see his shot tipped wide. Fryatt too forced a corner after Clarke could only parry his diving header behind.
It was the sort of friendly after which managers and fans alike are keen to point out the result doesn’t matter, but as the Paulo Sousa pre-season Petri dish moves on to Peterborough expect further experimentation.