Rooney 53 (pen)
M. Smith 76 (pen), 81
The Town bowed out of the Capital One Cup – in their first League Cup tie for five years – as Swindon came from a goal down to progress to round two.
The Hatters had led early in the second half following Luke Rooney’s penalty, but the Robins fought back through a penalty of their own through striker Michael Smith before the same player won it with a fine run and shot.
Rooney was sent-off against his former side in stoppage time at the end of the second half, but his dismissal aside, the midfielder was put in a man-of-the-match performance on his first start of the season.
The ex-Swindon man was one of two changes to the Town side that won at Carlisle, with Fraser Franks also in the starting XI as John Still experimented with a 3-5-2 formation, employing Franks, Steve McNulty and Luke Wilkinson as three centre-halves.
League 1 Swindon bossed the opening 45 minutes as they attacked the Town goal with pace and purpose but for all their possession Mark Tyler was only tested once – in the 20th minute when he kept out Ben Gladwin’s side-foot shot after Nathan Byrne’s square pass.
Rooney picked up the first of what would be two yellow cards in the 27th-minute as both sides picked up two bookings apiece in a stop-start seven-minute spell in the lead up to half-time.
The Hatters’ best chances of the opening half came from distance with Franks and Scott Griffiths both going close with shots from 25 yards, the former going closest with a well-hit daisycutter that flashed inches wide six minutes before the break.
But the Town did break the deadlock in the 53rd minute from the penalty spot. Mark Cullen forced visiting skipper Nathan Thompson into handling Paul Benson’s throughball and Rooney confidently dispatched the resultant penalty with real force. It was his first goal in Luton colours.
With their tails up Benson nodded straight at the keeper on 56 minutes but Swindon then began to turn to the screw in search of an equaliser.
Still introduced Luke Guttridge and Ross Lafayette as the final 15 minutes approached but the visitors continued to press without testing Tyler.
However, the Robins took their opportunity to level the score on 76 minutes when Andy Drury upended Byrne just inside the box and Smith placed his penalty perfectly into the bottom corner giving Tyler no chance.
That goal gave Swindon the confidence to hunt a winner, and with nine minutes left Smith grabbed his second goal, running through the heart of the Hatters defence to break into the penalty area and finish coolly past Tyler.
Tyler made a terrific stop to deny Andy Williams’ low shot from making it 3-1 two minutes later before Lafayette almost raced through for the Town with four minutes left on the clock.
The officials added a further six minutes on at the end of the 90 and Rooney thought he and the Town should have had a penalty in the second minute of added time when he went down under a challenge inside the box – only for the referee to adjudge the midfielder of diving. To his consternation he received a second yellow card and headed to the dressing room.
As time ticked down the Hatters huffed and puffed in search of a late, late equaliser to take the tie to extra-time but the Robins held on and the Town were out.
TOWN: Tyler; Connolly, Griffiths, McNulty, Wilkinson, Franks, Robinson (sub Ruddock Mpanzu 78), Drury, Rooney, Benson (sub Lafayette 72), Cullen (sub Guttridge 67).
Subs not used: Lacey, Wall, Howells, Justham.