Championship
BirminghamBirmingham City0LutonLuton Town1

Birmingham City 0-1 Luton Town: 'Impossible' to stay up if Blues play as badly as Hatters loss, says Karanka

Luton left-back Dan Potts celebrated his first goal of the season with the help of Jordan Clark
Luton Town left-back Dan Potts celebrated his first goal of the season with the help of Jordan Clark

Angry Birmingham City boss Aitor Karanka has warned his side that it will be "impossible" to avoid relegation from the Championship if punchless Blues carry on playing as badly as they did in the dismal 1-0 home defeat by Luton Town.

Luton left-back Dan Potts headed the only goal of the game on 31 minutes from Harry Cornick's long throw to earn the Hatters their fifth away win of the season - and even offer hope of an unlikely Championship play-off push for Nathan Jones' side.

But Karanka, fresh from being given the "100%" backing of chief executive Xuandong Ren, was left stunned by the surrender of three points by relegation-haunted Blues, who suffered their ninth home defeat in an alarming winless 11-game run.

Asked whether he thinks struggling City will avoid a drop to the third tier for the first time since 1995, Karanka told BBC Radio WM: "Playing the way we did today? No.

"It is impossible to believe and keep the faith. I was positive and strong over the way we played the last four games. But the way we played today it's going to be difficult.

"It was really poor. It was difficult to understand how Luton, who had only six more points than us before the game, wanted to win more than us. We didn't realise how important the game was."

It was only a seventh away league goal this season for Luton, who have not scored more than once in any game on their travels - and, for matchwinner Potts, in a career haul of 11 goals in seven seasons for Luton, this was his ninth away from home.

But it was enough to spell another home defeat for Blues in a winless run on home soil that stretches back to beating Huddersfield Town on 28 October.

While Blues remain in 23rd place, the lowest they have been in the table in over six years, they are at least only a point adrift of safety - and nine clear of bottom club Wycombe Wanderers.

But they have to find a way of solving a lack of goals - only five in that awful 11-game home run - and only one shot on target mustered against Jones' hard-working, well-organised visitors.

Luton had not beaten Blues since a 3-2 Championship win under Mike Newell at Kenilworth Road in October 2006, prior to the Hatters' subsequent fall from grace - when they slipped out of the Football League before climbing back through the divisions.

But, in a game of very few chances, after netting just twice in eight away league games since early November, Potts scored the one that mattered for Luton.

That lifted Town to 14th, within nine points of sixth-placed Bournemouth ahead of Tuesday's home game with Cardiff City, while Blues are back in action the following evening at former boss Gary Rowett's Millwall.

Reaction - 'We did the basics right'

Birmingham City boss Aitor Karanka told BBC WM:

"I don't want to think that the players don't realise what our situation is.

"It's not an easy situation. But they have to work harder and today was the opposite.

"Every single corner was a chance for them as we didn't defend as strongly as we should."

Luton Town boss Nathan Jones told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"Whatever Birmingham threw at us we dealt with. I don't think they've really had one shot on target.

"It wasn't fluent and it was not a game filled with quality but it was really important that we did the basics right.

"We've come off a tough run, of Bournemouth away, Brentford away, Chelsea away and Blackburn away, from which we were a bit disappointed to get only three points,. But this was about backing up performances with points."

Line-ups

Birmingham

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 30Etheridge
  • 6Valery
  • 12Dean
  • 5Friend
  • 3Pedersen
  • 19San JoséBooked at 58mins
  • 17SánchezSubstituted forLekoat 55'minutes
  • 35HalilovicSubstituted forHarperat 55'minutesBooked at 62mins
  • 20GardnerSubstituted forCosgroveat 69'minutes
  • 11BelaSubstituted forSunjicat 69'minutes
  • 9HoganSubstituted forJutkiewiczat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Prieto
  • 2Colin
  • 10Jutkiewicz
  • 14Leko
  • 15Clarke-Salter
  • 16Cosgrove
  • 18McGree
  • 24Harper
  • 34Sunjic

Luton

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 12Sluga
  • 6Pearson
  • 15Lockyer
  • 5Bradley
  • 3PottsBooked at 50mins
  • 16Rea
  • 7Cornick
  • 17Mpanzu
  • 22Dewsbury-Hall
  • 18ClarkSubstituted forNaismithat 70'minutes
  • 19Collins

Substitutes

  • 1Shea
  • 2Cranie
  • 4Tunnicliffe
  • 8Berry
  • 9Hylton
  • 24Naismith
  • 25LuaLua
  • 29Adebayo
  • 39Ince
Referee:
Gavin Ward

Match Stats

Home TeamBirminghamAway TeamLuton
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home4
Away9
Shots on Target
Home1
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away7
Fouls
Home18
Away16

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Birmingham City 0, Luton Town 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Birmingham City 0, Luton Town 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Luton Town. Conceded by Yan Valery.

  4. Post update

    Offside, Luton Town. Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu tries a through ball, but James Collins is caught offside.

  5. Post update

    Hand ball by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Luton Town).

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jonathan Leko (Birmingham City).

  7. Post update

    Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Luton Town) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Luton Town. Conceded by Yan Valery.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Dan Potts (Luton Town) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall with a cross.

  10. Post update

    Foul by George Friend (Birmingham City).

  11. Post update

    James Collins (Luton Town) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Rekeem Harper (Birmingham City).

  13. Post update

    Matty Pearson (Luton Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Post update

    Rekeem Harper (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Glen Rea (Luton Town).

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mikel San José (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right following a corner.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Sonny Bradley.

  18. Post update

    Offside, Luton Town. Matty Pearson tries a through ball, but James Collins is caught offside.

  19. Post update

    Jonathan Leko (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (Luton Town).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich29177539241558
2Brentford28169355282757
3Swansea27158435152053
4Watford29149637201751
5Reading2914694234848
6Bournemouth291210743281546
7Cardiff29117114033740
8Middlesbrough29117113230240
9Blackburn281161142311139
10Stoke2991283333039
11Preston29123143437-339
12Bristol City29123142939-1039
13Millwall2981472827138
14Luton28107112329-637
15Barnsley27106112934-536
16Nottm Forest2989122530-533
17QPR2789102632-633
18Huddersfield2996143342-933
19Derby2887131929-1031
20Coventry29710122740-1331
21Rotherham2785143338-529
22Sheff Wed2897122130-928
23Birmingham29610132135-1428
24Wycombe2847172149-2819
View full Championship table

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