The Hatters took Premier League Stoke City all the way to penalties only to lose 8-7 in the shootout after a brave effort in a rousing Capital One Cup second round tie at Kenilworth Road.
Left-back Scott Griffiths was the unfortunate Town man to miss when his kick from 12 yards hit the top of the crossbar.
That handed the Potters the advantage and Geoff Cameron rifled home the deciding kick to send Stoke through to face Fulham in round three.
Despite the disappointment, the Hatters can take heart from an excellent display against a City side tipped to do well in the top flight this term.
The first half was shaded by the visitors with Elliot Justham saving well from Jonathan Walters in the pick of the Potters’ chances.
But Justham could do nothing about Walters’ effort mid-way through the second period when the City forward latched onto Stephen Ireland’s pass and dinked an accurate finish over the advancing Town keeper.
However the Town’s response was admirable and the introductions of Ryan Hall and Cameron McGeehan on the hour began to have the desired effect as the visitors were pushed back.
Both substitutes were thwarted in the final 10 minutes by veteran Stoke keeper Shay Given, but as time ticked away, it seemed that the Premier League side would hold out for victory.
McGeehan, though, had other ideas and the midfielder popped up in the first minute of injury time to tap home Griffiths’ low left-wing cross after good work from Hall to take the tie to extra-time.
The Hatters goalscorer then sent a decent chance into the side-netting in the first period of the additional half-hour but after a goalless 30 minutes it went to penalties.
The first 14 penalties were perfect with neither Justham or Given given much chance in preventing a host of powerful spot-kicks from finding the net.
Someone had to miss eventually, though, and that misfortune fell on Griffiths when his left-footed effort clipped the top of the crossbar – and that left Cameron to convert the winning penalty to send the Town out – but out with the heads held high.
Full report to follow.
Town: Justham; O’Donnell, Griffiths, Cuthbert, Wilkinson; O’Brien, Smith, Lee, Ruddock Mpanzu (sub Hall 60), Green (McGeehan 60), McQuoid (sub Benson 71). Subs not used: McNulty, Guttridge, Mackail-Smith, Tyler.
Stoke: Given, Bardsley, Pieters, Ireland, Arnautovic (sub Diouf 96), Wilson, Walters, Sidwell, Crouch (sub Joselu 87), Wollscheid, Bojan (sub Cameron 87). Subs not used: Haugaard, van Ginkel, Adam, , Meixeira.
Attendance: 6,099, including 823 from Stoke.