After unimpressive form, it was vital that Birmingham City overcame the in-form Luton side of Graeme Jones – and they did it in style, easing 3-0 winners at St Andrews.
Luton dominated the opening minutes of the match with some promising opportunities. Most notable came from Luton top scorer Elijah Adebayo, who headed the ball past Amari’i Bell but the left-back couldn’t 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 club owners continued. Once the pitch was clear, play briefly resumed but was almost instantly stopped again due to interference from a steward retrieving a stray tennis ball. Speaking to Redbrick Sport after the game ended, Graeme Jones expressed his belief that “the tennis balls killed the momentum” and expressed his frustration over the troublesome steward.
In the 25and minute, Birmingham opened the scoring. Gary Gardner kicked in a cross from the right wing, finding a struggling Lyle Taylor who fed the ball back to Juninho Bacuna to score his first goal for the Blues. Following that, Luton had their biggest chance of the first half when Adebayo’s header landed at the feet of Bell, who opted to shoot rather than give the ball to a frustrated Harry Cornick.
Birmingham doubled their lead just fifteen seconds into the second half, as Luton’s Henri Lansbury accidentally headed a pass from Jeramie Bela into the path of the prolific Lyle Taylor, who calmly placed the ball into the bottom right corner past the Hatters goalkeeper James Shea. Taylor scored three goals in his first four appearances for the Blues since joining in January, but it wasn’t just his goalscoring record that was praised by Blues manager Lee Bowyer, who admired the way the striker ‘works so hard for the team’. ‘ and constantly ‘fighting for the ball.’
Almost immediately after conceding the second goal, Allan Campbell of Luton had a perfect chance to respond, but his volley went over the post. It 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 trailing an attempt just wide. In his post-match press conference, Bowyer said the role of captain had “gave him [Gardner] an advantage,” with obvious improvements in the quality of his recent performances.
In the 69and minute, Onel Hernandez finished perfectly to make it 3-0 for the hosts, and forcefully celebrated a front flip, after Luton’s Reece Burke failed to clear Jordan Graham’s cross. The rest of the match was relatively calm, with slight chances for Taylor and Bela as the only notable moments.
After the match, 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 take on Reading at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday. Troy Deeney and Marc Roberts near return; however, George Friend and Scott Hogan are expected to remain inactive for longer periods, with no current schedule for their return so far.
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