Vardy shows what Ranieri missed

Sunday Express - - Front Page - Birm­ing­ham 2 Hud­der­s­field 0 Read­ing 1 Wi­gan 0 Barns­ley 1 Bur­ton 1 Colin Mafham West Brom 0 Le­ices­ter 1 By Peter Oakes Pre­ston 1 Rother­ham 1

JONATHAN GROUNDS and a Craig Gard­ner penalty kept Birm­ing­ham’s Cham­pi­onship sur­vival hopes alive. But care­taker man­ager Harry Red­knapp was an­gry at Che Adams’ first-half send­ing off. He said: “I thought it was a poor send­ing off. I’ve looked at it a dozen times and he was on the floor, he’s gone for the ball.” Hud­der­s­field, hav­ing qual­i­fied for the play-offs, made 10 changes. Grounds (left) opened the scor­ing in the 41st minute. A fi­nal-day win at Bris­tol City will se­cure safety. Red­knapp said: “We have to win next week, a point is ab­so­lutely use­less.” READ­ING se­cured a place in the play-offs with a jit­tery win – and con­demned Wi­gan to the drop af­ter just one sea­son in the sec­ond tier. Read­ing se­cured the points early on when top marks­man Yann Ker­mor­gant (left) nod­ded in his 17th goal of the cam­paign. But Roy­als boss Jaap Stam gave a harsh warn­ing, say­ing: “That level to­day was not good enough for the play-offs.” Wi­gan’s Shaun MacDon­ald suf­fered a double leg break in an­other blow for the vis­i­tors, and boss Gra­ham Bar­row said: “It’s the third time that I’ve heard that noise and I knew he’d bro­ken his leg.” BUR­TON man­ager Nigel Clough hailed his club’s “great­est achieve­ment” as they se­cured their Cham­pi­onship sta­tus with this draw.

Ge­orge Mon­cur put the home side in front to­wards the end of the first half but a goal from sub­sti­tute Luke Var­ney soon af­ter the restart en­sured Bur­ton’s sur­vival.

Clough said: “We have had to play the likes of New­cas­tle, As­ton Villa, so there are no easy games.

“You have to em­brace that and say: ‘We are the small­est club’ and get like-minded play­ers who want to come and fight against the odds.” HOW Clau­dio Ranieri must won­der what might have been if only Jamie Vardy hadn’t lost his goal-den touch.

The Eng­land striker scored only seven in his ti­tle-de­fend­ing boss’s 32 games, and that in­cluded a hat-trick against Manch­ester City.

But what a trans­for­ma­tion since The Tinker­man was pushed out of the door as he’s added eight since Craig Shake­speare slipped into Ranieri’s shoes!

And Le­ices­ter have now taken 19 points out of 27 since dump­ing the man who led them on an open-top bus tour of the city af­ter their 5,000-1 Premier League win­ning mir­a­cle.

And had Vardy been any­thing but a shadow of the cur­rent player then Ranieri would still have been in his job.

Vardy’s goal, two min­utes from the end of the first half, was so typ­i­cal of last sea­son’s vin­tage.

Glid­ing on to Shinji Okazaki’s slide-rule pass af­ter a dread­ful Salomon Ron­don’s mis­take just in­side his own half, he de­liv­ered the per­fect dinked fin­ish over the on-rush­ing Ben Fos­ter.

And Shake­speare said: “That goal epit­o­mises Jamie Vardy as a striker.

“He is in that pur­ple patch that some­times strik­ers go through and he’s got a good head in front of goal.”

It sen­tenced the Bag­gies to a fourth de­feat in a row and they’ve gone 42 days – and an ag­o­nis­ing 465 min­utes of ac­tion – since they last scored.

Bag­gies’ boss Tony Pulis said: “We have talked all week about Vardy in the change-over and we got caught.” ROTHER­HAM have gone an en­tire sea­son with­out win­ning away from home for just the sec­ond time af­ter a mis­er­able year on the road ended in a draw at Pre­ston.

The Millers did at least double their away-day points tally as Richie Small­wood’s early goal helped them to just a sec­ond draw. Ste­vie May’s ef­fort earned Pre­ston their point.

Rel­e­gated Rother­ham ended their away cam­paign with 21 de­feats, but boss Paul Warne said: “I think there are green shoots for next sea­son.

“A few games ago I told the lads to use this as a mini-sea­son.”

ON FORM: Jamie Vardy scored his 15th goal of the sea­son

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