The Hatters' late comeback attempt was thwarted by high-flying Reading as they fell to defeat in the Sky Bet Championship this afternoon.
The Royals took a commanding two-goal lead into the break but Kazenga LuaLua scored the Town’s first away goal in five matches late in the game, though it was too little too late at the Madejski Stadium.
Manager Nathan Jones made three changes following the draw against Bournemouth last weekend, including Glen Rea – who returned to the side following his one-game suspension.
The Hatters failed to impose themselves in the first half as Reading controlled proceedings and took the lead early on.
Tom McIntyre scored his first professional goal in the ninth minute after a well-worked training ground routine resulted in him volleying past James Shea.
Reading had a second four minutes before half-time after Alfa Semedo played a neat one-two with Sam Baldock and calmly finished into the bottom corner.
There was, however, a chance for Town to pull themselves back into the contest as Martin Cranie was brought down by McIntyre and referee Matt Donohue awarded a free-kick and a yellow card to the defender.
The replays showed a different story as Cranie appeared to be brought down inside the penalty area but play continued and nothing came of the set-piece.
The gaffer turned to his substitutes at half-time and made three changes, with Rhys Norrington-Davies, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Danny Hylton all introduced for the second period.
The Premier League loanees were heavily involved and created a number of presentable opportunities, as Luke Berry saw his header saved by Rafael following Dewsbury-Hall’s corner.
Norrington-Davies then turned provider for fellow substitute Hylton, but the striker was unable to make proper contact and watched his header go wide of the goal.
With ten minutes left to play, the Hatters had another good chance as Dewsbury-Hall played a lofted free-kick into the box.
James Collins was the recipient but he miss-kicked his effort and Lockyer was then denied from close range too as the hosts managed to clear.
The Hatters reduced the deficit in the 90th minute through substitute LuaLua, who found the back of the net from 25 yards. An equaliser, however, proved elusive as attention now turns to Tuesday night when Bristol City travel to Kenilworth Road.
Reading: Rafael; Holmes, Esteves, McIntyre, Morrison (C); Rinomhota, Laurent, Semedo (Swift 67), Ejaria; Aluko, Baldock.
Subs not used: Southwood, Dorsett, Bristow, Watson, East, Onen, Olise, Melvin-Lambert.
Goals: McIntyre (9), Semedo (41)
Town: Shea; Cranie (Dewsbury-Hall 45), Lockyer, Bradley (C), Potts (Cornick 76); Rea (Hylton 45), Berry, Mpanzu (LuaLua 65); Clark, Moncur (Norrington-Davies 45); Collins
Subs not used: Sluga, Tunnicliffe, Pearson, Nombe.
Goals: LuaLua (90)
Yellows: Cranie, LuaLua
Referee: Matt Donohue