Luton Town 3 Birmingham 2: Bell ensures sound finish

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The Independent Online

Steve Bruce, Birmingham City's manager, refused to dwell on this result. And with good reason. Against a limited Luton Town side, his side looked strong for much of the game, and though they left Kenilworth Road empty-handed, Bruce knows that there will be better days for his expensively assembled outfit.

"We certainly didn't get the breaks," he shrugged after Luton were awarded a contentious penalty that allowed them into the game despite Birmingham being denied two of their own. "We didn't deserve to lose, but these things happen.

"Up until the penalty decision, we were the only team in it and the referee has evened it up. And then within a minute, all of a sudden we are behind. I am very disappointed because we lost a game, but there were positives."

The visitors had early penalty claims denied when Cameron Jerome and Gary McSheffrey tumbled under challenges. But on 14 minutes, the pressure told as Birmingham found the breakthrough. McSheffrey's lobbed pass found Dudley Campbell, and the nimble-footed striker shrugged Markus Heikkinen off the ball before shooting under the Luton goalkeeper, Marlon Beresford.

Birmingham were looking cool in possession. Their attacks were incisive and full of endeavour. But with adventure comes vulnerability, and Luton found their way back into the game on 26 minutes when they were awarded a penalty. Rowan Vine scored the spot-kick after Lewis Emanuel was fouled.

And just two minutes later, Bruce watched in amazement as his side conceded another. Vine scored his sixth goal in six games when he bundled in Emanuel's corner past Maik Taylor. It was Birmingham who looked in trouble.

But Luton's back line, especially the nervy Heikkinen, looked fragile. His torrid afternoon continued when he failed to clear. The ball found Neil Danns, who unleashed a fine shot that arrowed into the far corner of Beresford's goal.

But Luton secured the win when the substitute David Bell fired under Taylor on 81 minutes after a clever cushioned header from Carlos Edwards allowed him through.

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