Sport Writer Ben Wooldridge reports on Birmingham City’s comprehensive win against a Luton Town side pushing for the play-offs

Written by Ben Wooldridge
Images by @BCFC/ Twitter

After an unimpressive run of form, it was vital that Birmingham City overcame Graeme Jones’ in-form Luton side – and they did it in style, running out 3-0 winners at St Andrews.

Luton were dominant for the opening minutes of the game with a few promising opportunities. The most notable came from Luton’s top goal scorer, Elijah Adebayo, who headed the ball across goal to Amari’i Bell, but the left-back was unable to find the back of the net. However, play was halted after fourteen minutes as home fans threw masses of tennis balls onto the pitch, as protests against the club’s owners continued. After the pitch was cleared, play briefly resumed but was almost instantly stopped again due to the interference of a steward retrieving a stray tennis ball. Speaking to Redbrick Sport following the conclusion of the game, Graeme Jones expressed his beliefs that ‘the tennis balls killed the momentum’ and voiced his frustration regarding the impeding steward.

Play was halted after fourteen minutes as home fans threw masses of tennis balls onto the pitch

In the 25th minute, Birmingham opened the scoring. Gary Gardner delivered a cross from the right wing, finding a battling Lyle Taylor who laid the ball back for Juninho Bacuna to net his first goal for the Blues’. Following this, Luton had their biggest chance of the first half as Adebayo’s header landed at the feet of Bell, who opted to shoot rather than square the ball to a frustrated Harry Cornick.

Birmingham doubled their lead just fifteen seconds into the second half, as Luton’s Henri Lansbury accidentally directed a Jeramie Bela pass into the path of the prolific Lyle Taylor, who calmly placed the ball into the bottom right corner past Hatters’ goalkeeper, James Shea. Taylor has scored three goals in his first four appearances for the Blues’ since his January arrival, however it was not only his goal scoring record that was praised by Blues’ manager Lee Bowyer, who admired how the forward ‘works so hard for the team’ and constantly ‘fights for the ball.’

Almost immediately after conceding the second goal, Luton’s Allan Campbell was presented with a perfect opportunity to respond, however his volley flew past the post. This was as close as Luton came in the second half, with the Blues’ controlling the game. Shortly after Campbell’s chance, Birmingham came close to a third with captain Gary Gardner dragging an attempt just wide. In his post-match press conference, Bowyer said that the captaincy role has ‘given him [Gardner] an edge,’ with evident improvements in the quality of his recent performances.

In the 69th minute, Onel Hernandez neatly finished to make it 3-0 to the hosts, and emphatically celebrated with a front flip, after Luton’s Reece Burke failed to clear Jordan Graham’s cross. The remainder of the game was relatively quiet, with slight chances for Taylor and Bela the only moments of note.

In the 69th minute, Onel Hernandez neatly finished to make it 3-0 to the hosts

Following the game, Lee Bowyer provided encouraging news regarding the return to training of Manchester United loanee Tahith Chong, who made an impressive start to the Championship campaign before returning to his parent club to recover from a serious groin injury. It is likely that Chong could return when the Blues’ face Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday. Troy Deeney and Marc Roberts are nearing their returns; however, George Friend and Scott Hogan are set to remain out of action for longer periods, with no current timescale for their return thus far.

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