The Hatters suffered late heartbreak despite producing a determined display as they lost 2-1 against Leeds United at a wet Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
Town fell behind in the 51st minute as Patrick Bamford struck the Leeds opener, but the Hatters were quickly back on level terms as James Collins grabbed his sixth goal of the season.
Matty Pearson had the ball in the back of the net minutes after but his effort was ruled out for offside, as Leeds went on to win the game in the final moments with the ball going past James Shea off the defender, despite the Hatters producing a wholehearted display until the final whistle.
The result means Town remain in 21st place, whilst Leeds moved up one place into second behind leaders West Bromwich Albion.
The opening exchanges were certainly entertaining and chances were aplenty at both ends of the pitch.
Tyler Roberts thought he was bearing down on goal for Leeds but Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu shrugged him off the ball before he could get a shot away.
The midfielder – brought back into the starting line-up after not featuring against Reading – then had the game’s first shot just before the 20 minute mark, but fired over from the edge of the box.
It was Town in the ascendancy for a spell after that, with Harry Cornick almost the architect on both occasions. First the winger saw his effort blocked by Gaetano Berardi after being played through by Izzy Brown, next he produced some fantastic work down the right-hand-side to win a corner.
From the resulting delivery, Brown’s low ball was met by Sonny Bradley, who fired just wide of the goal.
After the half hour mark, Leeds created a number of chances to take the lead if it wasn’t for the brilliance of James Shea.
First the keeper could only watch as Bamford hit the post with a left-footed shot, but he was quickly called into action shortly afterwards.
Kalvin Phillips produced a low-drive from the edge of the box which Shea did well to parry. Harrison was quickly onto the rebound, but Shea was up again to deny Leeds.
Just before half-time, Shea was the hero once more as he denied Roberts from the edge of the box – a shot that took a big deflection on the way through.
Six minutes into the second half, Leeds took the lead through Bamford despite protests for a foul on Izzy Brown up the other end of the pitch. His left-footed effort went past Shea but their lead lasted for a matter of minutes, as James Collins scored his first goal since the victory against Blackburn Rovers in September, ending his seven-game goal drought.
Up against the club with whom he spent last season on loan, Izzy Brown provided his sixth assist in the Championship as he crossed for Collins, who powerfully headed the ball beyond Casilla.
Town thought they had taken the lead in the 58th minute, but after bundling the ball into the back of the net, Matty Pearson was judged to be in an offside position.
The game continued its high intensity and end-to-end fashion as Leeds went close once more.
Pablo Hernandez weaved his way into the box, before firing a shot on goal which Shea saved well to keep the score level.
Leeds ramped up the pressure with minutes to play as Mateusz Klich was denied twice in quick succession – first from an acute angle and then after receiving the ball 12 yards out.
In the last minute, the midfielder turned provider as his cross went off Pearson and into the back of the net.
There was very nearly even later drama as Dan Potts had a chance with the final touch of the game, but he could only head James Bree's corner down into the ground and over the bar.
The Hatters can take plenty of positives from this afternoon's performance though, as they look to bounce back on Tuesday night when Charlton Athletic are the visitors to the Kenny.
TOWN: Shea, Bree, Pearson, Bradley, Potts, Tunnicliffe, Shinnie (Bolton 90), Mpanzu, Brown (LuaLua 75), Cornick (McManaman 75), Collins. Subs not used: Sluga, Galloway, Jones, Butterfield.
Goals: Collins (54)
LEEDS: Casilla, Ayling, White, Berardi (Cooper 59), Dallas, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich, Roberts (Clarke 71), Harrison (Costa 64), Bamford. Subs not used: Meslier, Douglas, Alioski, Gotts.
Goals: Bamford (51, 90)
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 10,068 (1,035 away fans)