The Hatters put in a spirited performance at promotion hopefuls Swansea City this afternoon, but ultimately fell to a second successive Saturday defeat in south Wales.
Swansea won 2-0 with goals in the second and 89th minutes, but the Hatters controlled large parts of the match at the Liberty Stadium despite being reduced to ten men when Matty Pearson was sent off with 20 minutes to go.
The result sees the Hatters drop to 12th position in the Sky Bet Championship following defeat but they definitely won't be downhearted given the level of performance.
Manager Nathan Jones made two changes to the side that beat table-toppers Norwich in midweek, with both full-backs Dan Potts and James Bree making their first starts in the league this season in place of Rhys Norrington-Davies and Martin Cranie – the latter who suffered an injury in midweek, with the young Welshman rested.
Youngster Dion Pereira was named amongst the substitutes for the first time since joining the Hatters on a free transfer after leaving Atlanta United.
The hosts were in front inside two minutes when they worked the ball in from the right touchline to Andre Ayew, who laid it back into the path of Connor Roberts, whose shot took a deflection on its way into the top corner from just inside the area.
The Hatters gathered themselves, but were grateful that centre-half Ben Cabango directed a far post header straight at James Shea when goalscorer Roberts found him with an 11th-minute free-kick.
Jones made a tactical switch just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark, matching up Swansea's 3-5-2 by dropping Glen Rea into the middle of a back three and pushing Jordan Clark up front alongside Collins.
It almost paid immediate dividend when Clark laid Matty Pearson's pass off to George Moncur 30 yards from goal. Wednesday's opening goalscorer took a couple of paces towards the hosts' box and bent in a shot that kicked up off a surface that had been heavily watered just before kick-off, and had to be pushed onto the post by keeper Freddie Woodman.
Tom Lockyer, now playing on the right of the three centre-halves, then drove forward into Clark's previous right wing area and whipped in a cross that found James Collins' head, but the top scorer couldn't get a clean enough connection to send it goalward.
Town were now in the ascendancy and should have been level on 26 minutes when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's pressing forced Ayew into a loose pass back towards his own touchline, which freed Clark to cross low into the six-yard box. Cabango and Woodman reacted to cut it out, but the ball fell kindly for Luke Berry, who side-footed over with the goal at his mercy eight yards out.
Other than a 43rd-minute effort from Yan Dhanda that Shea dealt with comfortably, the Hatters dominated controlled the remainder of the half without being able to find the finish that would bring them back on terms going into the break.
The first real incidents of the second half saw Rea and Pearson both booked for a late lunges on Ayew, before Jones made a double substitution just after the hour, bringing Harry Cornick and Elliot Lee on for Dewsbury-Hall and Moncur.
Again, the switch almost paid off immediately when Lockyer swung a deep cross in to the City six-yard box onto Cornick's head, but the ball flew just wide of Woodman's right post.
The Town were well on top when they were reduced to ten men with just over 20 minutes to go, as Pearson attempted an overhead kick in the Swansea penalty area on 68 minutes, but home defender Marc Guehi got his head to the ball first before Pearson's boot connected with it.
Referee Leigh Doughty took two minutes before showing the Hatters defender a second yellow, resulting in the Town's first red card since James Collins was dismissed against Blackpool in April 2019.
Despite being a man down, it was Jones' side who continued to ask questions, City needing Ayew to clear off the line as Rea met Bree's 76th-minute corner with a thumping header.
Kazenga LuaLua was introduced for Berry with just under ten minutes of normal time to play, but despite the Hatters controlling possession and playing well, it was Ayew who sealed the points with a 20-yard shot into the bottom corner in the 89th minute.
Town: Shea, Bree, Pearson, Lockyer, Potts; Rea, Berry (LuaLua 82), Dewsbury-Hall (Cornick 62); Clark, Moncur (Lee 62); Collins.
Substitutes: Isted, Tunnicliffe, Galloway, Nombe, Morrell, Pereira.
Yellows: Rea, Pearson
Swansea: Woodman, Naughton, Guehi (Latibeaudiere 83), Cabango; Roberts, Cullen (Lowe 71), Grimes, Smith, Bidwell; Dhanda (Palmer 71), Ayew.
Substitutes: Benda, Manning, Fulton, Gyokeres, Routledge, Garrick
Goals: Roberts 2, Ayew 89
Referee: Leigh Doughty