The Hatters were able to move up to third and within two points of an automatic spot with another exhilarating win at Kenilworth Road tonight against Bradford City.
The Bantams put up a bit of a fight in the second half, and had a goal ruled out for offside. But by that point they hadn't been able to deal with the Town’s attacking prowess, which has proved to be so successful at home this season.
Elliot Lee stretched his lead at the top of the goal scoring table with a brace taking him to double figures for the season in another commanding performance in the number ten role.
The man in form has now notched seven in seven, causing defenders all sorts of trouble in Sky Bet League One this season. James Justin was able to convert the Hatters’ first after Harry Cornick's initial shot was saved, and the former Bournemouth man then rubbed salt into the wounds late on with the fourth, as the Bantams’ three game unbeaten run came to an end.
An important win on Saturday away at Gillingham meant Nathan Jones retained the same starting XI for a fourth game in a row, with Danny Hylton back in the mix after his suspension, beginning the game on the bench in place of Alan McCormack.
The Hatters struggled to find their stride in the opening exchanges of the match, the Bantams not allowing the Town any space to play their slick football on a well-watered surface, thanks to the heavy downpour across Bedfordshire this afternoon.
Both sets of fans were in fine voice, warming Kenilworth Road on a chilly night. The Hatters grew into the game, portraying glimpses of their previous home match against Plymouth despite a resilient Bantams defence who stood firm at the start of the half.
It was that in the 13th minute that the Hatters had their first sniff at goal, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu threading the ball across to Lee on the edge of the area, his shot always rising but proving that the Bantams had openings in their backline.
Another chance followed just after as the Bradford defence began to crumble, as their league form suggests, the ball headed over to Jack Stacey, whose drag back was met by Glen Rea. His shot didn't trouble Richard O’Donnell in the Bradford goal, but warning them that the Hatters were about to do what they do best at Kenilworth Road this season.
Another patient, passing move lead to the first goal of the evening, with the Hatters keeping the ball for a whole minute, except for one clearing touch from a Bradford defender as a low ball went into the six-yard box.
That clearance went straight back to an orange shirt, with the ball eventually being played out to Cornick, who cleverly cut inside to test the gloves of O’Donnell. When the shot wasn’t held, Justin was on hand to take the ball around and squeeze it in through the tightest of angles.
With Justin’s name booming around the Kenny, the Hatters began to put on a show, controlling the game and showing no mercy to the visitors, whose defensive game laid in tatters. Lee forced O’Donnell into an awkward save in the 29th minute, hinting at what he wanted from the game, which came soon after.
Shea even had time to drop the ball at Doyle’s feet in what could have been a turning point in the home side's momentum. An accidental slip of the glove was soon pounced on by a relieved Shea, who began the move for the Town’s second.
A manic minute maybe, but one the Hatters fans were happy to witness as the ball made its way up to Cornick who found Mpanzu. Another top pass from the number 17 was matched by an even better touch by Lee, who created space to slot it in for his ninth of the season. But he wasn’t done there.
Another move from the back meant Matty Pearson had time to play it over the top to Cornick. His touch was unplayable, delicately putting it on a plate for Lee at the first time of asking. The result was the same of course, as Lee stretched his goal tally to ten for the season.
Bradford came back however, with a chance of their own just before the break, attempting to fix what the Hatters had broken, a thumping header from Kai Brunker which crept just over Shea’s bar.
The beginning of the second half belonged to the visitors, but they were already dead and buried by this stage. They even had the ball in the net in the 54th minute, a well worked corner routine landed on the head of Eoin Doyle, whose clever flick found David Ball on the goal line to head home, although the forward was unaware of his offside position.
But their persistence didn’t stop there. The Bantams came back once more winning a number of corners, making the back four work hard to keep their clean sheet. Kelvin Mellor also hit a belter which Shea had to be alert to, getting a vital touch to tip it over the bar.
The introduction of Jack Payne saw them who cause a few problems in the attacking third, but it wasn’t enough to breach the Hatters’ defence. One attempt by the number ten was cleverly hit low through a crowd of bodies that Shea was able to hold on to.
Doyle also had his moments, not being able to direct his effort goalward after a Bradford corner caused a small scramble that was just about dealt with, but ultimately this was to be Luton’s night who stretch their unbeaten run at fortress Kenny.
Lee could have had a hat-trick when a pinpoint corner from Justin fell beautifully on to the head of the number 10. The strong header couldn’t quite squeeze its way into the top corner, but there was still time for one more.
Cornick, who has had a fantastic few matches for the Town, finally scored the goal that was so cruelly taken from him against Gillingham on Saturday, a mistake from McGowan meant Cornick was through.
His pace was unplayable at times, and proved too much on this occasion again, passing it into the net at the second time of asking, after his initial effort was stopped by O’Donnell.
It's eight wins in their last ten league games now for the Town, including five in a row at home, where the Hatters haven't been defeated now for 17 matches dating back to early March.
Jones' side now face a stern test away at League Two Bury in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday, but go into the encounter in fantastic form.
TOWN: Shea, Justin, Bradley, Pearson, Stacey, Lee (Potts 82), Shinnie, Cornick (Grant 90), Rea (C), Mpanzu, Collins (Jarvis 87). Subs not used: Stech, Hylton, Jones, Sheehan
Goals: Justin 27’, Lee 32’ 38’, Cornick 89
BANTAMS: O’Donnell, Chicksen, McGowan, Doyle (C) (Miller 76), Mellor, Brunker (J O’Brien 46), Wood (Payne 53), Caddis, L O’Brien, Ball, Henry. Subs: Wilson, Devine, Isherwood, Colville
REFEREE: Antony Coggins
ATT: 8,568 (298 away)