A goal in stoppage time from Craig McAllister completed a dramatic late turnaround as Crawley came from a goal down to end the Hatters' unbeaten record at Kenilworth Road.
Andy Drury had fired the Town into a lead on 64 minutes when smashing home from the penalty spot after Zdenek Kroca had been fouled in the box.
But, as visiting boss Steve Evans threw on four strikers, Richard Brodie pounced 10 minutes from time to bring the scores level before McAllister's last gasp winner left the home faithful stunned.
It was a result harsh on the Hatters. Richard Money was left speechless after seeing his side denied a point in a thoroughly entertaining game the Town dominated.
A bright start should have seen the Hatters in front as early as the sixth minute when Drury, who impressed all evening, flashed a superb pass across the Crawley six yard box that Claude Gnakpa somehow put over the crossbar.
While the Town were bossing things, back came the visitors who, out of nothing, gained the initiative spurning four chances in a frantic three-minute spell that saw Scott Neilson head against the crossbar and Mark Tyler make two outstanding saves from efforts by Brodie and Sergio Torres.
After weathering the Red Devils' storm the Hatters ended the first 45 minutes on top with Kroca missing a great chance to put them ahead on 28 minutes with a header from a Drury cross before Matthew Barnes-Homer fired a shot into the side netting a minute later following a fantastic searching pass by Drury.
How the game was still goalless was anyone's guess and the Town started the second period in the same vein as they began the first but it was Crawley who almost took the lead 10 minutes after the break when Tyler had to be at his best to turn away a goalbound header from Brodie.
That close shave woke the Hatters up and on 64 minutes they had the lead when Drury belted home a spot-kick past Michel Kuipers after Kroca had been pulled back by Kyle McFadzean when attacking a Keith Keane corner.
All of a sudden there was a buzz about Kenilworth Road with Barnes-Homer and Drury both going close to doubling the lead soon after.
Crawley boss Evans&nbsp;played his hand by introducing two strikers for two midfielders. With four strikers on the pitch it almost paid dividends on 74 minutes when McAllister, Brodie and Matt Tubbs all combined but the latter's shot was well-blocked by Shane Blackett.
The visitors knew they had to find something and with 10 minutes left on the clock they grabbed an equaliser when Brodie was on hand to turn home the loose ball after the Town switched off at a short corner routine.
Evans's gung-ho attitude was still leaving his side vulnerable to Town attacks and substitute Danny Crow almost restored the advantage on 83 minutes but shot tamely at Kuipers after doing the hard work by beating two men.
With a minute left on the clock most inside Kenilworth Road were on their feet when, almost in slow motion, Barnes-Homer sent a lob arching goalwards after beating Kuipers to the ball but the ball dropped agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
Most thought that was that but Crawley had other ideas.
With two of four additional minutes gone a mix-up in the Hatters defence presented Ben Wright with the chance to square to an unmarked McAllister who did the rest, slotting past Tyler to send the 153 in the away end into ecstasy.
It sealed a remarkable turnaround and left the Town wondering where it had all gone wrong.
The victory and the three points for Crawley opened up an eight-point gap between the two sides.
Leads in the division are notoriously difficult to defend.
A marathon not a sprint, eh?
For minute-by-minute analysis see below.
Luton Town 1 (Drury 64 (pen))
Crawley Town&nbsp;2 (Brodie 80, McAllister 90)
Final score from Kenilworth Road
FULL-TIME HATTERS 1-2 CRAWLEY - Stunned silence here. All the reaction to follow.
90 mins + 4 - 30 seconds left.
90 mins + 3 - As the Town look to restore parity Blackett, named man-of-the-match by the sponsors, heads over Drury's left-wing cross.
90 mins + 2 &nbsp;GOAL - Hatters 1-2 CRAWLEY - Uh-oh, McAllister, given the freedom of the area has time and space to side foot past Tyler after Wright's square pass and it's all gone horribly wrong.
90 mins - As four minutes of time gets added McAllister drives a decent chance into the Oak Road end after being found by Bulman's cute pass forward had beat Kroca.
89 mins - Oh....almost as MBH gets between Mills and Kuipers who leave the ball for each other but the striker's goes agonisingly the wrong side of the post. I thought that was going in.
87 mins - Then the Hatters break as MBH drives a screamer from an acute angle wide of the post. With three minutes left can the Town win this now?
86 mins - Half a sniff for the visitors as Tubbs whacks an effort goalwards that whistles wide of the post. He is then substituted by Steve Evans for Hall.
85 mins - Crawley in the ascendancy down and Town need to be careful with five minutes left.
83 mins - Oh a chance for the Hatters to restore the lead as Crow does brilliantly to pick Mills' pocket and drive forward but, after the goal had opened up for him, the substitute can only roll a&nbsp;tame shot at Kuipers.
80 mins Hatters 1-1 CRAWLEY - From a left-wing corner, Tyler doesn't know whether to come or go and the ball is headed goalwards. Blackett clears the effort over the line but as everyone in the box scrambles to try and get there first it's Brodie is first to react to bundle the ball over the line.
79 mins - Second change for Crawley, they now have four strikers on the pitch as Ben Wright - who was on-loan at Kenilworth Road last season - replaces Neilson.
77 mins - Crawley need to up it to find a point, they certainly have the personnel on the pitch now but then the Town have half a chance as long, long free-kick into the box is gathered by Kuipers - just - after it had eluded everyone in the area.
74 mins - Almost one a piece as Brodie plays a fantastic pass into the path of McAllister. He takes a touch and squares to Tubbs but the ball is behind the little striker. However he regains his composure and blasts a shot goalwards that is blocked by a combination of Kroca and Blackett.
72 mins - Crawley's first change of the night and it's a midfielder - Torres - on for McAllister - a striker. Brodie's dropped to a position on the left-wing.
70 mins - Another Town player in the book and it's for Claude which means he'll face a one-match ban. It looked a harsh decision but you can't change it now.
66 mins - Still the Town press, looking for a quickfire double as Drury attempts a ambitious volley from 40 yards that Kuipers just about fumbles into his grasp following his mis-kick.
65 mins - Town tails up and Gnakpa burst downs the right and floats a cross to the back stick that MBH gets a head to but can't direct one target.
64 mins &nbsp;GOOOOOOOOOOOAL HATTERS 1-0 Crawley - No mistakes this time thank goodness as Drury sends Kenilworth Road into raptures, belting the ball down the middle past Kuipers. He had no chance.
63 mins PENALTY TO LUTON, KROCA FOULED. IT'LL BE DRURY.
60 mins - A hour played and there haven't been as many chances as there was in the first so far. The attendance is 6,895 which includes 153 in the away end. That's the second highest of the season.
57 mins Now he can come on as the Town's first sub of the night is Crow for Atieno.
56 mins - A stoppage in play, the sub is indicated but the referee waved play on. Oh right.
55 mins - Tyler to the rescue once more for the Hatters as the home faithful have their hearts in their mouths as Brodie stretched to head an effort goalwards that the Town stopper keeps out brilliantly, diving to his right.
53 mins - Almost a sight of goal for both Tubbs and Brodie in the space of 30 seconds for the visitors but the Hatters clear. Activity on the Town bench meanwhile, looks like Crow's ready.
51 mins - Handbags between Barnes-Homer and Mills as they square up to each other on the edge of the Crawley penalty area. Both go in the book.
49 mins -&nbsp;Then half a chance for Crawley as Tyler takes evasive action to tip away a devilish inswinging free-kick from Neilson from the right side to concede a corner but from the resulting flag-kick the Hatters clear.
48 mins - Half a sniff for the Hatters as Claude works a clever through ball for MBH to chase but, baring down on goal, Kuipers is quickest to the ball.
46 mins - Early pressure from the Town as Keane sets-up Drury, who has time and space, to cross which looks dangerous but is dealt with by Kuipers who takes a good catch.
46 mins Annnnnnnnnd we're off for the second half as the Town attack the Kenilworth Road. No changes at the interval for either side. Come on Luton!
HALF-TIME HATTERS 0-0 CRAWLEY - That's half-time. An even share of chances&nbsp;&nbsp;but the Town mostly on top. Both sides have threatened with Tyler the busier goalkeeper even though the Hatters have dominated possession. Check back in 15 minutes what is going to be an intriguing second 45 minutes. COYH!
45 mins - As one minute of time is indicated Tyler touches away a Neilson piledriver that took a heavy deflection off the head of Keane. That was close.
43 mins - Two minutes to the break and still the Hatters dominate as good work from Drury and then Gleeson, win a corner down the right but Crawley eventually clear. Can they nick one before the break?
39 mins - It seems every week we have a contender for the 'worst free-kick of the season' award. Step forward Crawley's Dean Howell who booms a curling effort into the Kenny End from the left hand side of the pitch, 40 yards out.
36 mins - How this game is still goalless is beyond but it's pretty good entertainment. MBH looks in the mood tonight after his goal at Barrow. If I was going to change my post-match betting tips, I'd pick him to score tonight.
33 mins - All the Town now but they need to make this possession count. Another half-chance falls their way as Gleeson guides a cross-cum-shot inches wide of the post after good work from MBH and Claude.
30 mins - Oh, another chance and another set-piece from Drury causing Crawley problems as he swings in a right-wing corner that Gnakpa gets up to head narrowly over. The pressure is building again.
29 mins - Drury's at it again with his simply awesome delivery. This time he takes the ball down on his chest and pings a fabulous ball for MBH to run on to. The striker bursts past his marker before firing a well-hit shot into the side-netting. That was good football. Better.
28 mins - Chance&nbsp;and it should be 1-0 to the Hatters as somehow Kroca guides a header from five yards the wrong side of the post following Drury's fantastic inswinging right-wing, left-foot cross. Unlucky.
26 mins - The Town fans show their disgust as Atieno is the first man in book after fouling McFazdean. That was a strange one.
25 mins - Better from the Hatters after losing their way a bit here. Drury and Murray link-up well down the left which sees the latter cross looking for Gnakpa but Kuiper is there to pounce on the ball.
23 mins - The fourth official has just had a word with the visitors' bench. Their orange bibs the subs are wearing are clashing with the Hatters' strip. Let's hope we can get back into this again now!
20 mins - Out of nothing then the visitors have gained the initiative. They might have spent a lot of money but, thankfully, they don't have Mark Tyler.
19 mins - Certainly is all Crawley now and the Hatters have Tyler to thank again he firstly paws a Neilson cross from danger before palming over a fierce drive from Torres on the follow-up on the edge of the area.
17 mins - Brodie sees a tame header just fall the wrong side of the post. All of a sudden all Crawley and they're looking dangerous.
16 mins - Yes, I was almost right - see 11 minutes - as Crawley spurn two chances in the space of 30 seconds. Firstly Neilson sees a header rebound off the crossbar. Then, the Town have Tyler to thank for a great save to turn a Brodie shot away after the striker had raced clear of the home defence.
15 mins - A bit of a lull now but still the Town press. Then, a terrific cross from Keane from the right eludes Atieno but after he'd gone down looking for a pen the ball rebounded to Kroca who sees a inadvertently diverts the ball into the hands of Kuipers.
11 mins - I must admit amid typing, everytime I look up at the action the Town always have the ball. Somehow still goalless but why am I worried that against the run of play Crawley might nick one? Oh I know, I'm a Luton fan!
8 mins - More attacking play from the Town as the noise inside the home areas increases several decibels. Murray finds himself in the Crawley penalty area and crosses from the left which Pilkington scuffs with his side foot before Atieno can't capitalise. All the Hatters so far. Can they get one their play deserves?
6 mins - Chance. And the Town should be ahead. Drury slaloms down the left flank and curls a fantastic cross that disects the Crawley defence. It flashes into the six yard box eluding MBH and Atieno but not Gnakpa. However, it probably takes the Frenchman by surprise the his effort somehow goes high and wide.
5 mins - Okay, we're only five minutes in but it's all the Hatters so far with Crawley guilty of giving the ball away a number of times already. Encouraging.
3 mins - First effort of the night and it's Gnakpa that heads one well over the crossbar following Drury's left-wing corner. The corner had come after Howell, the visitors left-back had done really well to prevent Drury's right-wing cross from finding Pilkington at the back stick. Unlucky.
2 mins - So as expected it's Tyler in goal,&nbsp;a back four of Murray, Kroca, Blackett and Gleeson, a middle quartet of Drury, Gnakpa, Keane, Pilkington with MBH and Atieno up top.
1 min And it's Crawley that get this big game off, the crowd are in full voice. They are shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end in this first half. Crawley immediately give the Hatters possession from the kick-off.
19:45 GREAT GREETING
Huge cheers around Kenilworth Road for the Town, in particular from the Kenny End who give Mark Tyler a fantastic around of applause.
19:44 HERE THEY COME
Out come the two sides onto the fantastic looking Kenilworth Road playing surface. This should be a cracker. Standby for all your updates. COYH!
19:40 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS
Andrew Barringer: 2-0 Luton, Simon Pitts: 1-1, Ian Pearce: 2-1 Luton, Mark Wood: 3-1 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 2-2, James Cunliffe: 0-0, Bill Cole: 1-1, Geoff Knox: 3-0 Luton.
Four say a draw, eh. Oh well, we are the&nbsp;underdogs tonight, I guess.
19:20 ON THIS DAY
The Hatters' record on 5th October is mixed.
From the 14 games played the Town have won five, lost six and drawn three, scoring 21 and conceding the same amount.
However, the Hatters have won the last three games, the last of which was a 3-2 win at Stockport County. Two goals from Matthew Spring and one from Andrew Fotiadis earned the win in the so-called Hatter Derby at Edgeley Park in 2002.
The Town romped to a 5-2 victory over Darlington on their last appearance at Kenilworth Road in this date in 2001.
However, the best remembered game on this date was the 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Kenilworth Road in 1985. In the top division a Brian Stein goal equalised Mark Hughes' effort to prevent&nbsp;United&nbsp;from&nbsp;equaling&nbsp;a record of 11 consecutive wins to start a season.
18:55 TWO CHANGES
So, here it is...and it's two changes as Shane Blackett and Taiwo Atieno come in for Jake Howells and Danny Crow. Make that Pilks back in the centre of midfield alongside Keane.
Howells and Crow line-up alongside Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Amari Morgan-Smith and Kevin Pilkington on a very strong bench.
It's Matt Tubbs and Richard Brodie up front for Steve Evans' Crawley.
Hatters: Tyler, Gleeson, Murray, Keane, G. Pilkington, Barnes-Homer, Atieno, Drury, Blackett, Kroca, Gnakpa.
Subs: Morgan-Smith, Howells, Asafu-Adjaye, Crow, K. Pilkington.
Crawley: Kuipers, Smith, Torres, Tubbs, Bulman, Wilson, Mills, Howell, Neilson, McFadzean, Brodie.
Subs: Hall, Masterton, Jordan, McAllister, Wright.
18:34 TEAM NEWS
Without wanting to brag, I know tonight's team. Thing is although I'd love to tell you I can't until it's official. Remember though: this is the only place where you get to hear the teams FIRST. No where else will be first with the news so make sure you come back here in about 25 minutes time.
Very mild, still with beautiful late afternoon skies of reds purples and blues.
18:15 PITCH PERFECT
The Kenilworth Road pitch looks in STUNNING condition. Hats off to the two groundsman.
17:00 HOME SWEET HOME
They say there's no place like home. Especially when you've been away so long.
The past fortnight has seen the Hatters take in Darlington, Gateshead and Barrow picking up four points from a 1,438-mile trip around the northern reaches of England.
Yes there's been one home game hidden in between against Mansfield (although who could quite possibly over-look that match?) but tonight, for the time being anyway, the boys are back (erm, until the next away game versus Eastbourne - round-trip: 232 miles).
Richard Money has made his thoughts quite clear over the past month about the tough run of fixtures his side have faced recently.
Throw the miles in up and down the motorway and add home games against AFC Wimbledon (top of the table at the time), Mansfield (second at the time) and now, tonight, Crawley Town - top of the table now - and you understand why he's been advocating such opinions.
So it continues again tonight against Steve Evans' Crawley side who lie three points clear at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier.
It's billed as the biggest match of the season so far in the division but with the hands changing at the top like weather you could almost take such a billing with a pinch of salt.
But no, this will be the game between the best supported club in the league&nbsp;against the most expensively assembled squad in the league, so the match deserves all the hamming up it deserves, especially with the Tow's form on home soil.
Four wins and two draws - both of which could have quite comfortably been converted into victories - is the Hatters' record in front of the Kenilworth Road faithful so far this term.
That includes three successive three-point hauls with a combined&nbsp;aggregate scoreline of 7-0.
The York play-off game apart, where the Hatters were already a goal down chasing parity on aggregate, you have to go all the way back to 30th January and a ghastly 3-2 home defeat to Ebbsfleet United.
Crawley visit with a strike force that between them last season hit 60 goals. They might even have a substitute costing &pound;275,000. It underlines the strength of their ambition which they're self-titling 'Project Promotion'.
All said and done it promises to be a cracker tonight...
And if you haven't thought about coming yet I hope the above whets your appetite enough to get down to Kenilworth Road to back the boys.
As Richard Money said, the supporters can be a 12th man. 6,500 people in this league should act as 13th man. So come along and be apart it.
Well, whatever happens tonight, and indeed throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way.
If you can't make the match then we'll have all the goals and incidents as it happens live with the usual news in the run-up to kick-off with team line-ups and plenty of chat as your official website has, as ever, the usual updates keeping you bang up-to-date with all the action - and in a number of ways.
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