It’s now more than ten years since Martin O’Neil’s Leicester side lifted the League Cup. Since then City’s record in the competition has seen few shocks, but a few memorable cup nights.
Macclesfield fans looking for evidence of a surprise this evening need to go back to 1st November 2000 to find the last time Leicester lost a League Cup match to a side from a lower division. That night Peter Taylor’s City were dumped out of the competition in the 3rd Round by Crystal Palace, a side who on the night sat 23rd in what was then Division One. Following that shock City have faced 10 clubs from a lower division in the League Cup and progressed in every single tie.
Perhaps surprisingly tonight’s League Cup home tie will only be Leicester’s 9th in 11 seasons. The Foxes have won four and lost four League Cup ties on home soil in that time. On the road City have played 16 games, winning 10.
Since winning the competition the furthest Leicester have progressed is the last 16. City fans hoping for a cup run will not be surprised at the Foxes one win in six against teams from a higher division. Matty Fryatt’s winner at Aston Villa in 2007 was the only occasion since 2000 that City have shocked Premier League opposition
This is not to say Leicester’s League Cup exploits have not been entertaining. Narrow defeats at Fulham and Chelsea and an extra-time exit at the hands of Aston Villa in particular have been standout moments from the last 10 years. These high-scoring encounters (3-2, 4-3 and 2-3 respectively) have in part contributed to an impressive average of 3.04 goals per City League Cup match.
What has been of more concern for the competition as a whole is the lacklustre attendances in the early rounds. Sadly City’s record here mirrors that of the nation. 7,386 watched City’s last 1st Round League Cup tie at home to Stockport in 2008. The last time Macclesfield visited the Walkers Stadium in the 1st Round of the 2006/07 season just 6,298 showed up. A 2nd Round home tie with Blackpool attracted 7,386 in 2005 and at the same stage in 2004 the 3-2 extra-time defeat to Preston was watched by 6,751.
It wasn’t always like this. The 2nd Round second leg game against Crystal Palace in 1999 attracted 12,762 and in the next round 13,701 saw the Foxes beat Grimsby 2-0. A year earlier 13,480 watched the 2nd Round first leg match with Chesterfield. It’s hard not to think that £12 ticket prices for games which used to be included in the season ticket is part of the reason for the declining crowds. Perhaps the club takes in more ticket revenue this way, but I wonder if City would have done better in League Cup ties at home if the players had been backed by a decent crowd.