The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Steven Chicken

THE King Power Sta­dium ex­pe­ri­enced both fi­nal­day agony and ec­stasy as Le­ices­ter’s corona­tion was soured by Don­caster Rovers’ rel­e­ga­tion on goal dif­fer­ence.

Un­til the last minute of the game it looked as though Don­caster would join the cham­pi­ons’ cel­e­bra­tions, but Paul Cad­dis’ 93rd-minute goal for Birm­ing­ham made Rovers into ghosts at the ban­quet.

A draw would have suf­ficed for Donny and for 75 min­utes they did enough, but a calami­tous er­ror from James Hus­band gave the Foxes the penalty that ef­fec­tively sent Rovers down.

But it would be harsh in the ex­treme to pin the blame on Hus­band for this failed cam­paign, with Rovers tak­ing just one point from their fi­nal seven games and record­ing just one win in games against the rest of the bot­tom six.

Of course, the sym­pa­thy of the Le­ices­ter fans – who re­mem­ber Paul Dickov fondly from his play­ing days – was no con­so­la­tion to the Rovers boss.

He said:“I’m gut­ted and re­ally dis­ap­pointed be­cause it was ev­ery­body’s aim this year to keep us in the di­vi­sion and we’ve just come up a lit­tle bit short.

“We can look at the re­sult, re­sults else­where, but it’s over the course of the sea­son and more of­ten than not you prob­a­bly de­serve to be where you are at the end of the sea­son.

“It wasn’t through a lack of ef­fort from the play­ers, from the club, from the fans or from ev­ery­body.

“We gave it ev­ery­thing we had and it’s just dis­ap­point­ing.

“If I’d man­aged to keep the club up it would have been the big­gest achieve­ment of my ca­reer, and it’s now the big­gest let-down.”

How­ever, Dickov re­mains con­fi­dent of re­main­ing in charge next sea­son, adding:“We had con­ver­sa­tions with the board be­fore this game. All our ef­forts now as a club are to make sure we get pro­moted next year.”

A de­fen­sive Don­caster side seemed quite happy to play for 0-0 pend­ing news from the Ree­bok Sta­dium.

Good news came through on 57 min­utes as Bolton took the lead over Birm­ing­ham, with Le­ices­ter fans join­ing Rovers in the cel­e­bra­tions with only the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion to worry about all af­ter­noon.

And the love-in con­tin­ued as vet­eran striker Kevin Phillips re­ceived an emo­tional farewell upon de­part­ing his fi­nal ever match af­ter 20 years in the game and with al­most 300 goals to his name.

But it all un­rav­elled for Don­caster in the fi­nal 15 min­utes, with Hus­band foul­ing man-of-thematch Riyad Mahrez.

And Foxes striker David Nu­gent stepped up con­fi­dently to con­vert from the spot.

At that point it looked im­ma­te­rial – but in the last minute of in­jury time news broke of Birm­ing­ham’s de­ci­sive equaliser.

Le­ices­ter re­ceived the Cham­pi­onship tro­phy as Don­caster mourned, and man­ager Nigel Pear­son was de­lighted to pass the 100-point mile­stone.

He said: “I’m very pleased. When you achieve the goals that you want to achieve be­fore the end of the sea­son, in many ways, there’s not a lot of pres­sure.

“But for us to go out and fin­ish in front of our own fans in a sell­out with a pos­i­tive re­sult and the added ben­e­fit of be­ing one of the few sides to go be­yond 100 points, clearly it’s a great achieve­ment.

“People will want to talk about it romp­ing to the ti­tle but it’s not al­ways been that.

“We’ve had to work ex­cep­tion­ally hard and I think we’ve been very con­sis­tent.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed for Paul be­cause of what hap­pened else­where, but we had our job to do and I think we de­served to win the game.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

NUM­BER ONE: Le­ices­ter City cel­e­brate as cap­tain Wes Mor­gan lifts the Cham­pi­onship tro­phy

ON TAR­GET: David Nu­gent scores from the spot

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