Luton undone by late Jutkiewicz header
Championship: Birmingham City 2 Luton Town 1
A late Lukas Jutkiewicz header saw Luton suffer back-to-back away defeats, going down to a 2-1 reverse at Birmingham this afternoon.
It had looked like the visitors would earn a point, Harry Cornick coming off the bench to draw them level midway through the second half, only for the towering Blues striker to head home the winner with eight minutes remaining.
Defeat was harsh for the visitors' second half performance, as they improved dramatically from a poor opening 45, but the Championship once again proved it is an unforgiving division.
Town boss Graeme Jones made three changes to his line-up, starting with the same 11 that finished Wednesday night's 3-2 defeat at Fulham, as Callum McManaman, Kazenga LuaLua and Luke Bolton came in for Cornick, top scorer James Collins and James Bree.
The hosts had the lion's share of territory and possession in the first period, but were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities, with Town's Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu having the only real sighter, his 20-yarder collected by Lee Camp.
City remained on top though and went close when Maxime Colin's deflected effort saw James Shea make a flying intervention to turn it over, while the Luton stopper then made an excellent instinctive stop from Jutkiewicz's header.
Jutkiewicz had a goal disallowed after the offside flag was raised, as he turned home Dan Crowley's right wing cross, while the hosts then came on strong in the closing stages of the first half.
The visitors then fell behind on the stroke of half time with a goal of their own doing, as Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu wasted a glorious chance to clear the danger from a corner, trying to run the ball out of defence.
He lost possession and with Luton scrabbling back, Crowley's ingeniuous flick over Town's defence saw Colin pick out Kristian Pedersen for the simplest of headers.
Luton tried to start the second half positively, McManaman's curling cross-shot going wide, before the Blues were back on the front foot.
Kerim Mrabti tested Shea on the angle after Sonny Bradley was caught in possession outside his area, while Bolton was fortunate not to concede a penalty when catching Crowley inside the box, referee Dean Whitestone waving the appeals away.
The hosts should have been 2-0 in front on 50 minutes as with Town's defence caught out once more, Mrabti didn't give up a lost cause, beating Shea to the ball.
His cross rolled along the area and from three yards out, Jutkiewicz couldn't connect for what looked the most easiest of finishes, as Town somehow remained in the game.
Shea then flipped Jude Bellingham's cross over the top, before Jones replaced McManaman with Collins on the hour, in a bid to see Town finally become more of an attacking threat.
It almost paid off moments later too as the top scorer took aim from 25 yards and his effort was arrowing in, but for the fingertips of Camp and the woodwork.
Harry Cornick was then introduced on 66 minutes and he did have the desired effect 60 seconds, a flick by Collins saw a City defender make a hash of his clearance.
It was pounced on by Brown who slid Cornick through, the forward once more going straight through, producing an even more emphatic finish that last weekend, fairly hammering it beyond Camp and in off the underside of the bar.
With Jutkiewicz leading the line, Blues were always dangerous in the air, Marc Roberts nodding a corner over, but Luton were also not without their aerial opportunities, Collins diverting Brown's corner into the stands.
The introduction of Collins and Cornick saw Brown far more involved than he had been before, with two players now to aim for, and he almost added another assist to his ever-increasing collection.
Found by Mpanzu's excellent pass, he looked up and unleashed a wonderful delivery for Collins, but stretching, he could only put it behind on his left foot.
However, Town's game management was called into question once more as this time LuaLua didn't get the ball away at the first time of asking, although looked to be fouled as it went into touch.
Blues went on to win a corner and it was that set-piece they had the lead with eight minutes to go, a deep delivery headed back across for Jutkiewicz, who nodded in, despite it looking like he was climbing all over his man.
Bradley's header was cleared away from near the line, before Brown took matters into his own hands, setting off on a wonderful run, taking on the whole defence, only denied a sensational equaliser by a desperate last-ditch challenge.
That was Luton's last real chance to salvage a point, and they almost fell further behind in stoppage time, Matty Pearson in the right place to head an effort away from danger, as the hosts took all three points.
Blues: Lee Camp, Kristian Pedersen, Marc Roberts, Maxime Colin, Dan Crowley (Jaques Maghoma 87), Lukas Jutkiewicz, Harlee Dean ©, Fran Vallalba, Kerim Mrabti (Álvaro Giménez 77), Jude Bellingham (David Davis 87), Ivan Sunjic.
Subs not used: Connal Trueman, Wes Harding, Jake Clarke-Salter, Odin Bailey.
Hatters: James Shea, Luke Bolton (Jacob Butterfield 87), Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley (C), Matty Pearson, Martin Cranie, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Harry Cornick 66), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Kazenga LuaLua, Izzy Brown, Callum McManaman (James Collins 60).
Subs not used: Lloyd Jones, Andrew Shinnie, Simon Sluga, James Bree.
Booked: Roberts 11, LuaLua 45, Collins 70, Cranie 90.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.
Attendance: 21,799 (2,676 Luton).