The Hatters suffered a first loss in seven matches after they were defeated 5-0 by Reading at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
Yakou Meite scored a first-half hat-trick before George Puscas added another after half-time. Meite stroked home his fourth goal of the game rounding off a day to forget for the Town players.
Nathan Jones made four changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Leeds United, with Izzy Brown, Elliot Lee, Harry Cornick and James Collins all involved from the off.
The opening exchanges were lively and both sides could have taken the lead. In the 10th minute, Tyler Blackett’s cross was pushed away by Simon Sluga into the path of Meite, but Dan Potts was in the right place at the right time to make a vital block on the line.
At the other end, Cornick found space on the right for a cross and picked out Collins, but his header cannoned off the bar and out.
Matty Pearson was furious his penalty shout came to nothing after he appeared to have been held back in the box and Reading took advantage when they progressed down field and took the lead.
Puscas played a neat ball through to Meite and the Ivorian forward prodded beyond Sluga, before netting again 60 seconds later.
Town failed to clear the ball and it landed at the feet of the 24-year-old, who smashed home to double the Royals’ lead.
Meite completed his hat-trick in the 35th minute after Ovie Ejaria played an inch-perfect ball through to him, which he dispatched into the far corner.
Reading scored a fourth goal in the 57th minute as Puscas got on the scoresheet. Michael Morrison headed the ball across the box and on the stretch, the Romanian international managed to get his head to it and find the bottom corner.
Not before long, the away side had a fifth and it was Meite once more. He beat Sonny Bradley to the ball and calmly found the bottom corner.
The Hatters pushed for a consolation but after Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu got to the by-line and crossed for Collins, the striker’s touch was too strong, and the ball rolled through to Rafael.
Potts saw a late shot saved by the legs of the Brazilian goalkeeper as the disappointing result leaves the Hatters five points adrift of safety with a fixture against Barnsley next up on Tuesday night.
TOWN: Sluga, Pearson, Carter-Vickers, Bradley (C), Potts; Mpanzu (Shinnie 82), Brown (Bree 45), Tunnicliffe (Bree 45); Cornick (Cranie 70), Lee (Hylton 70); Collins.
Subs not used: Shea, McManaman, Moncur, Butterfield.
READING: Rafael; Osho, Morrison, McIntyre, Blackett; Rinomhota, Swift (C) (Richards 78), Ejaria (Olise 70), Pele (Masika 61); Meite (McCleary 70), Puscas (Baldock 78).
Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, Moore, Boye.
Goals: Meite (17,18, 35, 62), Puscas (57)
Referee: James Linington