Leicester have made a habit of doing things the hard way this season and it needed an equaliser from Harvey Barnes to rescue a valuable point against 10-man Brentford after Brendan Rodgers’s side displayed their inability to defend set pieces once again.
Mathias Jensen’s deflected goal that rounded off a brilliant corner routine had seemed to put Thomas Frank’s side on course for a place in the top six heading into the international break. But staring down the barrel of sixth straight defeat that would have left them in the bottom three, Rodgers will take comfort from a battling performance after Barnes struck at the start of the second half and Brentford substitute Shandon Baptiste was set off for picking up two bookings in the space of minutes.
It seemed that Leicester may have turned a corner just before the World Cup when they recorded five wins from six matches in all competitions but, despite impressive wins over Tottenham and Aston Villa, they had since reverted to their early season form that yielded zero points from their first six league fixtures. But while they remain one of only three teams in Europe’s top five leagues not to have registered a clean sheet this year after Daniel Iversen was handed his first league start in place of Danny Ward in goal, at least this time they showed some desire to dig in for a scrap against Brentford, who hadn’t lost at home since facing Arsenal back in September.
Rodgers’ side looked like being in for a long afternoon when they were forced to spend the opening 10 minutes defending for their lives. Only a well-timed clearance at the back post from Timothy Castagne that cut out Rico Henry’s tempting cross for Bryan Mbuemo kept the hosts from taking the lead as they piled pressure on Leicester’s backline.
But having ridden the early storm, a whipping shot from Barnes after he rode a challenge from Aaron Hickey was not far away at the other end before some of the visiting fans in the opposite corner celebrated when they thought Patson Daka’s header from Ricardo Pereira’s cross had gone the right side of the post. The Zambia striker was then quick to pounce on a mistake from Ethan Pinnock but could not direct his shot on target.
Those misses were to prove costly when Brentford went ahead soon afterwards. A spectacular crossfield pass from the outstanding Henry set up Mbeumo to curl just over just before Brentford took the lead through a corner routine straight from the training ground. Having been worked to Henry on the edge of the box, his ball picked out Mbeumo at the far post and his volleyed cross was eventually touched back by the alert Ivan Toney into the path of Jensen, whose shot took a massive deflection off Pereira to give Iversen no chance.
It was exactly the kind of defending that has cost Leicester so dearly this season, although it is hard not to admire the set-piece innovation that has been a hallmark of Brentford’s unlikely rise up the table. Conceding the goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of their opponents, who were thankful to reach the break without conceding more.
A clearly frustrated James Maddison had been straight down the tunnel after enduring a half to forget but the England midfielder was at the heart of Leicester’s equaliser at the start of the second half. A mazy run from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall found Maddison with time to measure a brilliant through ball for Barnes to finish with aplomb. Suddenly it was game on.