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Birmingham City player ratings vs Luton Town: Ruddy and Roberts stand tall in stalemate

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 30/07/2022 Brian Dick

Birmingham City showed plenty of perspiration but not too much inspiration as they battled to a brave point in John Eustace's first game in charge.

The Hatters will feel they deserved more than a 0-0 draw but after a summer of gloomy predictions, Eustace's call for a committed and competitive display was heeded at Kenilworth Road.

In truth, the visitors didn't really have any clear-cut chances while Luton had several, but with John Ruddy a commanding presence in goal and a determined and organised defensive performance there were positives for the new head coach.

Blues were subjected to an early onslaught from the home side as they piled bodies and fired balls into the penalty area.

One was driven from a wide free kick by James Bree, which flew through to the excellent Ruddy who saw it late and saved with his legs. Soon after Przemyslaw Placheta gave the ball away as Blues tried to break.

Jordan James lost a tackle and Luke Freeman was given space to twist into the area and shoot low to Ruddy’s right, the goalkeeper got just enough of a touch on it to put it behind for a corner. Auston Trusty also produced a vital block when Carlton Morris looked to have turned him inside.

However, Blues began to slow the game down, their defensive shape held and for all the crosses that were sent in, their aerial defence stood up to the challenge.

They had a couple of bright moments up the other end. On the half hour James was freed down the left his low cross was behind Troy Deeney but the striker touched the ball into Maxime Colin’s path to the right of the D. Unfortunately the Frenchman shot straight at Ethan Horvath.

Then just before the break a delivery from the right by Marc Roberts was headed out to the edge of the box where Placheta took it down and fired a dipping shot straight at the Luton goalkeeper.

Troy Deeney is challenged by Allan Campbell during the Sky Bet Championship match between Luton Town and Birmingham City at Kenilworth Road. © Tony Marshall/Getty Images Troy Deeney is challenged by Allan Campbell during the Sky Bet Championship match between Luton Town and Birmingham City at Kenilworth Road.

Blues had limited opportunities in attack in the second period, never truly troubling the Luton goal despite getting in a few crossing positions. When they did get the ball into the area the home defence was too strong. One Roberts header from a corner with five minutes to go was as close as they came.

Instead Eustace's men had to do a lot more defending. In the 52nd minute James had no-one to pass forward to and lost possession as he crossed half way, Luton played into the space down the left and Morris jinked inside Trusty but his left foot curler flew across goal and just wide.

WIth a quarter of an hour to go Blues defended a long throw in but the ball was cleared to Cauley Woodrow whose first time shot went through a forest of legs but straight at Ruddy.

Then Harry Cornick should have opened the scoring soon after Luton won possession high up the pitch but he could only fire wide from just outside the box. But they couldn't find their way past a determined Blues defence.

Formation

3-5-2

Players

Ruddy 8*

A really assured presence in the Blues goal. Took pressure off his defence by claiming the odd corner and in the first half dealt comfortably with what came at his goal. A very strong debut from the 35-year-old.

Colin 7

A decent first half both in attack and defence. He guarded his post well when the ball came from the left and was often the outlet down the right. His one shooting opportunity might have been better aimed low rather than straight at Horvath. Stayed home in the second period to try to preserve the clean sheet.

Sanderson 7.5


Gallery: The worst refereeing decisions of all time (FourFourTwo)

Blues were penned it early on and weren't able to use Sanderson to play them upfield. He gave away a couple of free kicks against Luton's physical strike pair but held his own in the air. Booked early in the second period which meant his decision making had to be good - which it was.

Roberts 8

Luton were happy for Roberts to have the ball and see if he could instigate play upfield, more often than not he couldn't. He did what was asked of him defensively though, winning most of his duels and attacking the ball when it was there to be won. At times was a threat in the opposition area without ever making a clean contact. He's in the team to defend and he did that very well.

Trusty 7.5

Found Morris and Adebayo a powerful combination and ended up conceding a few fouls. But he settled as the first half wore on and came up with a vital block to deny Morris. A decent second 45 too and looks as though he'll be a steady operator for Blues.

Placheta 6

Learning the wing back position and it looked new at times. Luton pressed him hard when he had the ball. He did escape a couple of times in the first half and had Blues' one shot on target. Had some crossing positions in second period but seemed reluctant to go at his defender often enough. When he did he looked dangerous.

Woods 6

Struggled to get any measure of control in the first half as Luton's midfielders looked far more energetic. On hand for a really important block in his own area midway through the second half and while there were errors he deserves credit for his application.

Jordan James challenges home player Allan Campbell during the Sky Bet Championship match between Luton Town and Birmingham City at Kenilworth Road. © Tony Marshall/Getty Images Jordan James challenges home player Allan Campbell during the Sky Bet Championship match between Luton Town and Birmingham City at Kenilworth Road.

James 6.5

Deployed as more a No. 4 than a No. 8 which restricted his chances to get into the box. Battled hard and didn't look out of place though. An important brick in the defensive wall.

Bacuna 6.5

His first half was notable for one surging run straight at the defence but his left footed shot was weak. The Hatters kept him under wraps. There was an anxious moment when he had treatment in the second half which left you wondering, if Bacuna's not on the field to create, who will?

Deeney 6

Had very little to work with and was given plenty of stick by the home fans. He'd have loved a goal but it wasn't to be on a day when he fed off scraps.

Hogan 6

Didn't buzz about with the bristling intent of pre-season - and with very little ball to work with he was a peripheral figure throughout.

Substitutes

Jutkiewicz (for Deeney, 78) N/A

Graham (for Placheta, 83) N/A

Not used: Etheridge, Friend, Leko, Chang, Bellingham,

Opposition

LUTON (3-5-2): Horvath; Bree, Osho, Bradley, Potts, Bell; Clark, Freeman (Woodrow 70), Campbell; Adebayo (Jerome 84), Morris (Cornick 70). Not used: Lockyer, Lansbury, Pereira, Macey.

Goals

Luton:

Blues:

Referee: Graham Scott

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