Stoke go up, Leicester relegated

Stoke 0 Leicester 0

Stoke were promoted back to the top flight after a 23-year absence following a goalless Coca-Cola Championship draw against Leicester at the Britannia Stadium.

However, it was heartbreak for the Foxes as the result saw them slip out of the top two divisions for the first time in their 124-year history.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions on the final day of the season for the 26,609 inside the Britannia Stadium, particularly for those supporters from Leicester whose transistor radios were tuned into the extraordinary events taking place at St Mary’s between Southampton and Sheffield United.

The tide turned many times for Foxes fans, but ultimately Southampton’s 3-2 victory ensured they would be frequenting League One stadia next season.

By contrast, Stoke’s promotion was all but sealed when news filtered through midway into the second half that Hull were losing at Ipswich.

On the field Stoke dominated but could not manage to break the deadlock.

Tony Pulis made one enforced change to the side that put Stoke on the brink of promotion with a 1-0 victory at Colchester last weekend.

With a fully-fit squad to choose from the Potters manager opted to hand Andy Wilkinson a start at full-back after Chris Riggott was recalled from his loan spell by Middlesbrough.

In stark comparison, Leicester boss Ian Holloway had to choose from a depleted squad.

Holloway made three changes following the damaging home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

One was enforced after Patrick Kisnorbo suffered a knee ligament injury in that game so Bruno N’Gotty was recalled.

Joe Mattock replaced Jamie Clapham at left-back while fellow youngster Harry Worley made his full Foxes debut in midfield.

With so much at stake the game got off to a nervously energetic start.

The first dangerous moment for either side did not arrive until the 13th minute.

A long throw into Leicester’s box from Rory Delap eluded Ricardo Fuller at the near post before the ball bounced off the rain-sodden surface across the face of goal and skidded beyond Richard Cresswell who was sliding in at the far post.

Stoke threatened again from another set-piece midway through the first half.

Liam Lawrence’s corner was met by Ryan Shawcross on the penalty spot but his header looped just wide.

Mamady Sidibe powered another header straight at Paul Henderson from similar range on the half-hour mark.

Leicester’s first noteworthy opportunity arrived immediately after as Barry Hayles raced clear down the left-hand side of the Stoke box, but the former Plymouth striker lashed his shot wildly wide from the angle.

Fuller stung Henderson’s palms with a thunderous volley 10 minutes before the break and was thwarted by the Foxes goalkeeper again from the rebound after he had eluded the challenges of two Leicester players.

Hayles forced Carlo Nash into his first piece of action right at the end of the first half, but it was a routine save for the Stoke keeper who dived to his right to smother the curling shot.

Henderson reacted quickly to get down at the foot of a post to parry Sidibe’s close-range shot early in the second half.

The deadlock was almost broken following Leicester’s first corner of the game in the 61st minute.

Gareth McAuley’s header struck the far post before Hayles and McAuley again were denied by goal-saving tackles in the ensuing scramble.

With 10 minutes remaining Leicester twice came agonisingly close to scoring the goal that would have saved them.

Nash kept out Hume’s half-volley before the Stoke keeper athletically tipped Richard Stearman’s header over the crossbar from the resulting corner.

The game was held up by a pitch invasion during injury-time but it merely postponed the inevitable as both team left the Championship, but in different directions.

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