Report: Luton Town 0-0 Blues
Blues drew away to Luton Town in their Sky Bet Championship opener on Saturday afternoon.
John Eustace's side delivered a wholehearted performance when he led the Club for the first time in a league game to collect a credible point at Kenilworth Road.
This came with the added bonus of a clean sheet as John Ruddy looked very assured in front of a sturdy defensive unit away from home
There were also moments for Birmingham City that could have seen them take more from the match and Marc Roberts' series of second-half headers certainly had the home side nervous during what was a well-matched contest.
The Head Coach handed out three league debuts for the curtain raiser in Bedfordshire. Ruddy started in goal, with loanees Auston Trusty and Przemyslaw Placheta also in from the first whistle. Club Captain, Troy Deeney, skippered the side as he partnered Scott Hogan in a front two.
A lively atmosphere in the stands was mirrored on the pitch in a full-blooded start that saw Blues put in some industrial yet fair challenges as they asserted themselves in the early stages.
Although it was Luton who had the first shot on goal when Luke Freeman worked his way into the penalty area, being foiled by an outstretched Ruddy.
The visitors responded by putting a fine move together from the middle of the park, largely engineered by Juninho Bacuna. His pass split the opposition defence to send Maxime Colin into space down the right of the box, only for the Frenchman's inviting centre to not be met by a teammate.
Another chance presented itself after 25 minutes and it was all of Bacuna's own making. He strode through the heart of midfield and created a shooting opportunity, but he scuffed his effort wide of the target.
An unreasonable yellow card clouded a fine opening 45 for the Curacao international, although perhaps that incentivised Eustace's men who ended the half the stronger. Przemyslaw Placheta kept Ethan Horvath honest when he hit a dipping half-volley that the Hatters' stopper only gathered after an initial fumble.
HALF-TIME: Luton Town 0-0 Blues
The second-half started at a great pace and there was goalmouth action for Blues before it was even five minutes old. Bacuna's flighted corner was screaming out for a headed touch that Marc Roberts applied, just without the necessary power to find its way through a crowd of Luton bodies.
Birmingham's centre-back glanced another header wide as the away team began to turn the screw and agitate the home crowd. Plenty of joy was being found down the left-hand side and Placheta won a free kick after a cute nutmeg, but Bacuna was unable to test the goalkeeper from the dead-ball situation.
Harry Cornick went close from outside the area either side of introductions for Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jordan Graham, with the former forcing a corner that presented the day's final chance of note. Bacuna delivered from the quadrant and Roberts climbed well, generating power but not direction as the deadlock could not be broken.
Ruddy's save from Freeman in the game's infancy set the tone for a resolute defensive display that continued throughout and got Blues' points tally up and running.
The result sees Blues hold last season's play-off semi-finalists and take a well-deserved point from their first of 46 league matches.
Luton Town (5-3-2): Ethan Horvath, James Bree, Gabe Osho, Sonny Bradley (captain), Dan Potts, Amari'i Bell, Allan Campbell, Jordan Clark, Luke Freeman (Cauley Woodrow 69), Carlton Morris (Harry Cornick 70), Elijah Adebayo (Cameron Jerome 83).
Substitutes not used: Matt Macey, Tom Lockyer, Henri Lansbury, Dion Pereira.
Blues (3-5-2): John Ruddy, Dion Sanderson, Marc Roberts, Auston Trusty, Maxime Colin, Jordan James, Ryan Woods, Juninho Bacuna, Przemyslaw Placheta (Jordan Graham 83), Scott Hogan, Troy Deeney (Captain) (Lukas Jutkiewicz 78).
Substitutes not used: Neil Etheridge, George Friend, Jonathan Leko, Aflie Chang, Jobe Bellingham.
Booking: Bacuna 35, Sanderson 50, Woods 90+3.
Referee: Graham Scott.
Blues are in Championship action at St. Andrew's for the first time since May when they welcome Huddersfield Town next Friday, kick-off 7.45pm. This is followed up by away trips to Norwich City and Cardiff City on Tuesday 9 August and Saturday 13 August respectively, the former being a first round Carabao Cup tie.