The Hatters fell to their third defeat in four League 2 matches with a narrow loss at Bury.
Tom Soares’ ninth-minute header proved to be the difference but the Town were unlucky not to pick up a point with home goalkeeper Nick Pope twice denying goal-bound shots from Luke Guttridge and injury time header from Cameron McGeehan.
With Stephen McNulty the one change to the side that beat Accrington, the skipper and his team-mates were under pressure from the first whistle and the home side came close in the third minute when Kelvin Etuhu headed wide.
Two minutes later the Shakers, who came into the game unbeaten in five matches, saw Nicky Adams’ shot from close range ruled out for offside after Elliot Justham had parried Danny Mayor’s shot.
However the Town were not so lucky on nine minutes when the home side took the lead. Chris Hussey flew down the left flank to deliver a peach of a cross to the back post where Soares was on hand to direct a firm header beyond Justham.
Shell-shocked, the Hatters were unable to contain the confident hosts and the home side thought they should have had a penalty when Soares went down under a challenge from Harriman in the box on 12 minutes but referee Duncan remained unconvinced.
The Hatters then had Harriman to thank four minutes later when he cleared Nathan Cameron’s goal-bound header off the line with Justham beaten.
Bury continued to dominate with the Town unable to create any clear-cut chances on the break, but on 31 minutes Elliot Lee was bundled to the floor in the penalty area when challenging for a high ball but nothing was given.
Slowly but surely the Hatters worked themselves into the game and McGeehan wasn’t far away from meeting Jake Howells’ centre on 34 minutes. But from that clearance the Shakers countered and Mayor shot over the bar.
Five minutes before the break, as the Town continued to edge their way into proceedings, Lee was again protesting for a penalty after being brought down but Bury broke away again and, again, Mayor was off target.
But a minute before the interval the Hatters came mighty, mighty close to levelling when home goalkeeper Pope somehow turned Guttridge’s deflected shot from the edge of the box around the post for a corner. Luke Wilkinson crashed a header over the crossbar from Howells’ resultant corner.
Town boss John Still made two changes at the break, introducing Alex Lawless and Nathan Oduwa for Lee and Howells.
Bury’s intensity, like it was in the first half, had dropped at the start of the second, and Guttridge fired over a free-kick from distance as the Hatters looked for an early goal in the second half.
On the hour the Town made their third and final change of the night with Mark Cullen replacing Jayden Stockley.
Three minutes after that swap McGeehan shot well wide of the target from distance as the Hatters’ efforts of finding an equaliser continued.
Bury’s threat going forward was limited but substitute Ryan Lowe wasn’t far away with a shot on the turn on 69 minutes but four minutes later Guttridge was denied a fantastic chance for an equaliser when Pope saved another shot from the midfielder. Lawless was the creator, bombing down the right to cross, but after Oduwa and Cullen were unable to latch onto the ball, it fell to Guttridge on his left foot but Pope stuck out a leg to divert the ball to safety.
As time ticked down the Town continued to huff and puff in search of an equaliser but Justham needed to be alert with six minutes left on the clock to keep out a Cameron shot with his foot at his near post.
However, despite three minutes of injury time, the Hatters could not find a late leveller with McGeehan’s last-gasp header clawed away by Pope with the last action, and Bury celebrated a victory to pull them level on points with the Town in League 2.
Remember we’re back in action at Kenilworth Road on Saturday when Morecambe are the visitors. BE THERE.
TOWN: Justham, Harriman, Griffiths, McNulty, Wilkinson, Smith, McGeehan, Howells (sub Lawles 46), Guttridge, Stockley (sub Cullen 59), Lee (sub Oduwa 46).
Subs not used: Franks, Drury, Whalley, King.
Attendance: 2,915 with 328 shouting for the Town.