League Two: Bury 1 Luton Town 0
Luton Town’s worrying away form continued as they were beaten 1-0 at fellow promotion-chasers Bury last night.
It was a third successive defeat on their travels for John Still’s men and they have now triumphed just once in 12 matches away from the sanctuary of Kenilworth Road.
Despite the visitors’ poor showing, the Shakers had keeper Nick Pope to thank for three fine saves as he prevented Luke Guttridge magnificently on two occasions, and also stopped Cameron McGeehan’s injury time header from creeping in.
Results elsewhere saw John Still’s side remain in fourth place, although they now trail the top three by five points ahead of Saturday’s visit from Morecambe.
Hatters made one change as skipper Steve McNulty expectedly came back into the side for Fraser Franks who dropped to the bench, while keeper Elliot Justham continued in the absence of Mark Tyler.
In what was soon to become a theme during the first half, the Shakers threatened from the wide areas, with Chris Hussey’s corner glanced off target by Kelvin Etuhu, while Bury did have the ball in the net when Justham parried Danny Mayor’s shot and Nicky Adams tapped home only to be flagged offside.
The hosts were deservedly ahead on nine minutes with a goal of sheer simplicity as Hussey had all the time to dink over a cross and Tom Soares climbed above Scott Griffiths to head home.
Bury continued to cause havoc on the flanks, particularly through Hussey, and almost had a second on 18 minutes when Michael Harriman kicked Nathan Cameron’s header off the line.
Andrew Tutte saw his free kick brush the side-netting as Luton struggled to create a single attempt of note in the opening half hour, bar strangled penalty appeals when Elliot Lee went down in the box.
The on-loan forward saw another burst brought to an end as he was sent tumbling to the ground, with official Scott Duncan unmoved once more.
However, Bury broke away again and a deep cross was put over the top by Mayor as their pass and move approach was far easier on the eye than anything Town could muster.
Hatters almost had a barely deserved equaliser out of nothing though when Guttridge’s instinctive left footed curler flicked off a defender but the already airborne Pope somehow managed to stick out a hand and flick it behind.
A far from happy Still made two alterations at the break as Alex Lawless and Nathan Oduwa came on for Howells and Lee.
Guttridge sent a hopeful free kick into the stands, while Luton made their last swap on the hour mark with leading scorer Mark Cullen replacing Jayden Stockley.
The change in personnel saw Town improve slightly but they were still restricted to efforts from range, Cameron McGeehan drilling wide.
Bury always looked the likelier though, sub Ryan Lowe inches past the post moments after coming on.
Hatters had a marvellous opportunity to level on 70 minutes when Lawless’ cross was somehow missed by Oduwa from just six yards out, as Guttridge reached the loose ball, although he was denied by Pope’s legs.
Justham also blocked from Cameron, before Luton almost stole a draw when Cullen flicked on and McGeehan nodded goalwards, only for Pope to save the day once more.
Bury: Nick Pope, Andrew Tutte (Chris Sedgwick 82), Adam El-Abd, Kelvin Etuhu, Nicky Adams (Craig Jones 78), Danny Mayor, Chris Hussey, Danny Nardiello (Ryan Lowe 66), Tom Soares, Joe Riley, Nathan Cameron (C).
Subs not used: Jimmy McNulty, Danny Rose, Kiel O’Brien, Rob Lainton.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Michael Harriman, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith, Cameron McGeehan, Jake Howells (Alex Lawless 46), Luke Guttridge, Elliot Lee (Nathan Oduwa 46), Jayden Stockley (Mark Cullen 59).
Subs not used: Andy Drury, Fraser Franks, Shaun Whalley, Craig King.
Referee: Scott Duncan.
Booked: Cullen 73, Lowe 90.
Attendance: 2,915 (Luton 328).
Hatters MOM: Alex Lawless - finally added some inventiveness to Town’s display when he came on.