SUPER SUB: Jutkiewicz comes off the bench to help Blues beat Blackpool
PA - Bradley Collyer
Substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz dragged Birmingham out of the mire by scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory over Blackpool at St Andrew’s.
The 32-year-old striker netted in the 81st minute from only Birmingham’s second effort on target in a game of few chances.
But it was a dream full debut for 17-year-old midfielder Jordan James, whose header teed Jutkiewicz up.
Up until then Blackpool had looked the more likely scorers, but they were foiled by goalkeeper Matija Sarkic and denied a possible penalty as they made it five games without a win.
Blues went close to taking the lead after 40 seconds – and some fans briefly thought they had.
Jeremie Bela unleashed an angled shot from 25 yards that hit the side-netting after it initially looked like it might have drifted inside the stanchion.
Blackpool then got into a mess entirely of their own making.
A combination of two defenders flicked on a long throw-in from Marc Roberts towards their own goal and goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw was forced to tip the ball over the bar.
But from then on, Blackpool went on to dominate the rest of the first half.
The visitors’ first attack saw them go close as Gary Madine stabbed over after getting ahead of Roberts to Keshi Anderson’s left-wing cross.
Blackpool had a sniff of two chances in quick succession before going desperately close to the opening goal.
Another Anderson cross searched out Demetri Mitchell rushing in to pounce but Sarkic was on to it in a flash.
Left-back Reece James then advanced forward but his low angled drive was well wide.
Birmingham invited pressure on themselves when Kristian Pedersen pulled down Kenny Dougall and was booked.
From the resulting free-kick, Mitchell’s effort curled agonisingly wide.
Reece James tried his luck again from distance with another low drive – this time fully 30 yards – but his effort was wayward and drifted well off target.
Blues created the first opening of the second half but it came to nothing.
Scott Hogan briefly got clear only to check and try to find strike partner Troy Deeney but his pass was cut out.
Blackpool responded with the best attack of the game that brought the first serious save from Sarkic.
Substitute Josh Bowler exchanged passes with Owen Dale down the right and his left-footed effort was diverted behind off the foot of Sarkic.
It looked like Blackpool might have had a case for a penalty in the 77th minute.
Substitute Shayne Lavery burst into the box only to take a tumble under a challenge from Ivan Sunjic but the referee waved play on.
Blues made Blackpool pay for not turning their earlier dominance into goals by snatching the lead.
The ball came off Jutkiewicz’s thigh after Jordan James glanced on Pedersen’s cross.
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