Woeful Luton are thrashed 5-0 by Birmingham
Championship: Luton Town 0 Birmingham City 5
An absolutely inept defensive performance from Luton saw the Hatters suffer a downright embarrassing hammering at the hands of Birmingham City this afternoon.
After a midweek triumph at Barnsley in which the efforts of Town's back-line were the highlight of the evening, with many singing their praises, this was to prove the exact opposite, the hosts undone with ease time and time again, City's aerial domination particularly painful to witness.
There were to be no repeat of Luton's valiant fightback at West Bromwich Albion the previous weekend too, when the Hatters almost pegged their opponents back from 3-0 behind, Birmingham going on to run riot with two more goals late on and puncture all the optimism that had been swirling around Kenilworth Road prior to kick off.
The Hatters made two changes from Tuesday night's 1-0 victory, Allan Campbell and Harry Cornick replacing Henri Lansbury and Cameron Jerome, the latter dropping to the bench against his former club, where he was joined by the fit-again Fred Onyedinma.
City made the better start, Kristian Pedersen getting up first, which was to become something of a theme, to glance narrowly wide of the target from Marc Roberts' dangerous cross.
Roberts was then booked for scything down Cornick on the edge of the box and from James Bree's whipped free kick, Matija Sarkic parried, the keeper then doing superbly to block Tom Lockyer's follow up.
For the second time in three games, Town were behind early though, and as at the Hawthorns, from a set-piece, Roberts leaping impressively to beat Elijah Adebayo and power his header past Simon Sluga despite a touch from the keeper.
Luton almost levelled when Lockyer led a charge out of defence, finding Cornick, whose cross was just too high for the unmarked Admiral Muskwe at the back post.
After a corner was cleared, Amari'i Bell, buoyed by his midweek winner, tried his luck from 35 yards, with Sarkic unable to hold and just getting there to divert the rebound against Lockyer and over.
Despite Town appearing to have the upper hand, they then conceded again on 27 minutes, when the hosts couldn't clear their lines and Tahith Chong sent over a cross that Scott Hogan directed cleverly past the despairing dive of Sluga.
Boss Nathan Jones reacted by taking off Peter Kioso for Glen Rea, the substitute moving into the holding role, and quickly booked for clipping Chong when in full flight.
Just prior to the break, Muskwe's touch let him down as he went to gather Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's interception, before Manchester United loanee Chong went for goal with an angled drive that forced Sluga to repel, Naismith hacking the loose ball away.
Pedersen was off target in the last action of the half, as referee John Busby bore the bunt of the crowd's frustrations given the number of erratic decisions he had been making.
Jones brought on Onyedinma at the break for Campbell, but any hopes of a comeback went up in smoke just two minutes into the second period, the goal coming from a home corner.
Bree's poor delivery was headed out to Mpanzu whose poor tough was seized upon by the influential Chong, easily head and shoulders above any other player on the pitch, the Red Devil racing past Bell to bear down on Sluga.
Although Mpanzu somehow managed to keep pace with him and execute a superb full stretch last-ditch tackle, the ball ran fortunately through to the unmarked Hogan who had the simplest job of taping into the empty net.
It could have got worse Ivan Sunjic shanking wide from the edge of the box, but Luton did attempt an unlikely comeback, Onyedinma's acrobatic overhead flying wide.
Jones brought on ex-Blue striker Jerome, but Chong carried on dictating proceedings, his low attempt gathered by Sluga.
Bree's cut back was turned wide by Muskwe, while Onyedinma's cross-shot flashed across goal, while at the other end, Chuks Aneke's downward header bounced narrowly wide.
Jerome might have pulled one back, unable to hit the target from yet another decent Bree free kick, before Sluga was down well to prevent Aneke putting an even greater gloss on the scoreline with eight to go.
He could do nothing to stop substitute Gary Gardner from doing just that on 85 minutes though, picking out the top corner with a strike of unerring quality.
With Luton's chins well and truly on the floor, they then conceded a farcical fifth when Jeremie Bela was left unmarked, his volley blocked on the line, where a prostrate Aneke managed to turn it over the line.
It meant the Hatters were condemned to a heaviest home reverse since the 5-0 loss against Reading on July 4, 2020, although fortunately for the supporters, on that occasion, hey hadn't been allowed to watch that equally appalling effort.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, Peter Kioso (Glen Rea 27), Tom Lockyer, Kal Naismith, James Bree, Amari'i Bell, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Allan Campbell (Fred Onyedinma 46), Admiral Muskwe, Harry Cornick (Cameron Jerome 57), Elijah Adebayo.
Subs not used: Harry Isted, Carlos Mendes Gomes, Elliot Lee, Gabe Osho.
Blues: Matiaj Sarkic, Maxime Colin, Kristian Pedersen, Marc Roberts, Ryan Woods, Tahith Chong (Ivan Sanchez 70), Scott Hogan (Chuks Aneke 61), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Gary Gardner 81), Jeremie Bela, Harlee Dean ©, Ivan Sunjic.
Subs not used: George Friend, Jonathan Leko, Juan Castillo, Connal Trueman.
Bookings: Roberts 4, Rea 34.
Referee: John Busby.
Attendance: 10,014 (1,006 Blues).