John Eustace says Birmingham City need to be ‘better in the last third’ after falling to a ninth defeat in 11 league games.
Blues were beaten 1–0 by Luton Town, with Carlton Morris heading the only goal of the game as the Hatters’ quick start to the second half proved to be the difference between the sides.
Eustace’s side recovered briefly, Scott Hogan hit the crossbar off a Tahith Chong cross, but the Luton goalkeeper didn’t really have a save to make.
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All of which left Eustace happy with his team’s commitment but lamenting their lack of cutting edge. “I think it was a fighting performance, the first half there was nothing in the game, the group of players who were there gave one hundred percent, they gave themselves to the maximum. Obviously goals change games, the way we started the second half was really disappointing.
“The only message we gave the guys at half time was to go out and keep up the good work, play in their half and make sure we win our duels early.
“We had chances to kick the ball out of play, chances to stop the cross. Those basic things are what are letting us down right now.”
As a Luton player received treatment midway through the second half, Eustace spoke to his players on the touchline, urging them to press for an equalizer.
“(I said) Just let go of the shackles, I think when we concede goals, it affects our confidence a little bit, you can see that. The boys have nothing to fear, we have a young group that wants to do well in this football club. I just said ‘Take off your shackles, you don’t have to worry, let’s get into good areas.’
“In the first half we got into very good areas and we didn’t put the ball in the area. We need to be better in that last third, we have to take responsibility and I just said ‘Come on, we changed our form, just go and express yourself and get back in the game.’
“I think the way we started the game you can see the spirit, the togetherness and the fight that is there. We need to be better in that last third, I don’t know if the results are affecting the quality in that last third. The most important thing is that we go back to basics, we keep working hard, we have to be more difficult to score.
“And in that final third we just need to be better. I don’t think it has anything to do with the 11 games, we’ve needed to be better in the last third all season. But what we have been is that we have been more difficult to play against.
“We are missing key players, great players in the backbone of the team, that makes the difference, of course. The most important thing is that we come back on Monday and we have a really good week on the sled that we haven’t been able to do in the last three or four weeks and we get back to what we’re good at.
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