Leicester boss Nigel Pearson’s gameplan works as Foxes hunt Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan
Nigel Pearson revealed nullifying Wes Hoolahan was key to Leicester's FA Cup fifth round success at Carrow Road.
The Foxes' chief was well aware of the Irishman's potential to wreak havoc, but Pearson felt his combative midfield got the upper hand to tilt the cup tie decisively in the Championship outfit's favour.
Hoolahan did drag Norwich level after Kasper Schmeichel had initially saved the stand-in skipper's spot kick following Sean St Ledger's early opener, but David Nugent hammered underneath Jed Steer to earn a last-eight spot.
'I think they play some good football, but they can also mix the game up,' said Pearson. 'On the day we were better than them. We played some good football as well. Sometimes as the away side you can set up a little differently, but we decided from the off that we wanted to play positive football. Their shape, with the diamond in there, can cause problems from time to time if you let Hoolahan get on the ball too much, but because of our work rate we dealt with that pretty well.
'They have had an awful lot of success over the past three years and they are having another good season in the Premier League. We knew they have very capable players. I think both sides contributed to what was a very good cup tie.'
Pearson labelled Norwich's first half penalty award 'harsh' after Schmeichel rashly barged Elliott Bennett attempting to collect Simeon Jackson's spiralling shot.
'There was certainly contact, but Kasper on the replays is only looking at the ball,' he said. 'I was very pleased with both the result and the performance. I thought we played exceptionally well, mixed the game up very, very well. I think for our fans we have put them through the mill this season because we have had a few false dawns, but hopefully we can build on this sort of performance.
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'We played with a lot of discipline and desire and didn't make mistakes, like we have been doing. That was down to a combination of a number of things. I was just pleased with how we started the game, how we dealt with the disappointment of being pegged back through a penalty, which we felt was harsh, and throughout the rest of the game we created chances. When we had to defend, we did with an awful lot of spirit.'
Pearson was delighted at the number of chances created by his men, which included a Wes Morgan back-heel cleared by Elliott Ward in a first-half incident that threatened to reignite the debate on goal line technology.
'They are still going to be talking about these things until the game embraces technology,' said Pearson. 'I don't know. I've seen the incident and you would have to say it would be a guess to decide whether it was or it wasn't over the line. Our players felt that it was over the line, but until we actually embrace technology like other sports do then it makes the job for the officials that much harder.
'It was great to see Sean get his first goal for the club. When I say it doesn't matter who scores them of course we want our strikers to be in form. I think (Jermaine) Beckford today caused them all sorts of problems as did Lloyd Dyer. We had Ben Marshall making his first start for us and to play as positively as he did bodes well for the future.
'I decided to freshen things up, which is no bad thing for the squad, and, as I have always said, I want competition for places, but it was pleasing that we created a number of other chances.'
Pearson now aims to use cup success as a springboard for a late run to the Championship play-offs.
'It still remains a frustration why we are as inconsistent as we are. but there are lots of positives from this game,' he said.
'We still have a number of games left in the league, plenty of points to play for, and I think it is important if we play like that then clearly we are going to have a better chance of winning Championship games.'