City's defensive lapses come back to haunt them again
FORTUNATELY for Bristol City manager Derek McInnes and his players, they are not required to play Leicester every week.
Arguably the npower Championship's form team after winning five in a row, the Foxes look a sound bet to be playing Premier League football next season.
Certainly, Nigel Pearson's in-form side represented a step-up from anything else City have faced this term and all the available evidence suggests the Robins still have to find improvement before they can hope to match the best the English second tier has to offer.
If nothing else, this contest served to highlight City's shortcomings, providing as it did incontrovertible evidence that McInnes urgently needs to bolster his defence in the transfer market.
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City's requirement for a commanding right-sided centre-back has been well publicised and readily acknowledged for longer than most of the club's supporters would care to admit.
While the recruitment of an experienced first-ball winner will surely be a priority during the two-week break for international matches.
One thing is for sure; without the arrival of outside help, a team that has yet to keep a single clean sheet in 11 competitive outings this term will struggle to fully realise its undoubted potential.
Week after week, the Robins are succumbing to the same old mistakes and it is now painfully obvious that McInnes must seek reinforcements in the emergency loan market.
If nothing else, the arrival of a new face or two would serve to lift the spirits of defenders who are experiencing hard times right now.
It can be argued that Leicester are an altogether superior side, yet there is no escaping the harsh truth that City contributed mightily to their own downfall with more of the weak defending that has cost them so many points in recent weeks.
McInnes set his team up to be hard to beat, adopting a 4-3-3 system designed to stifle opponents who have been scoring goals for fun.
Some may criticise him for not embracing a more expansive approach but, given the personnel at his disposal, it is difficult to see how he could have done anything differently.
Aware of the need to protect a defence that has now conceded 19 goals in ten Championship outings, he could not afford to be too open against a Leicester side high on confidence and playing on home soil.
If the manager's tactics were designed to keep his side in contention for as long as possible, then they were working as the game entered its final quarter.
Trailing to David Nugent's 19th-minute strike, the Robins were nevertheless enjoying sufficient possession to realistically anticipate the possibility of an equaliser.
But those hopes were dashed when the otherwise outstanding Richard Foster, under severe pressure from the rampaging Nugent, headed Ben Marshall's cross into his own net 17 minutes from the end of a game that had largely stagnated.
Although Leicester were clearly superior in most departments, they were aided and abetted by some feeble defending.
Certainly, Liam Fontaine is man enough to admit he should have done more to prevent Nugent from opening the scoring, the former England forward out-muscling and out-sprinting him to take full advantage of Jamie Vardy's incisive through ball.
It can be argued that City could also have done more to prevent Leicester's second goal which, if not quite as soft as their first, highlighted a collective failure to keep the ball out of the penalty area.
There will inevitably be occasions this season when City are unable to reproduce the attacking football and goalscoring opportunities that have characterised so many of their performances to date, and it is then they need to defend well as a team in order to pick up results.
Everyone can see where the problem lies, but putting it right is the responsibility of the manager and he knows what is needed.
In the meantime, players, staff and supporters must remain strong and avoid any temptation to point fingers and apportion blame.
Of course, some players know they can do better, but the Robins will stand or fall as a team and a united front on and off the pitch offers the best chance of coming through this current rough patch sooner rather than later.