League Two: Burton Albion 1 Luton Town 0
Luton Town saw their proud 11-game League Two unbeaten run ended as they were knocked off top spot after a narrow defeat at Burton Albion, who leapfrogged them in the process.
The Hatters couldn’t recover from conceding a goal moments after half time from full back Phil Edwards, while they will now be without centre half Luke Wilkinson for three games as he was shown a straight red in the closing stages.
Town chief John Still made two changes to the side that beat Tranmere Rovers last Saturday as Shaun Whalley came in for only second start of the campaign, while Scott Griffiths also returned at left back.
Leading scorer Mark Cullen dropped to the bench after suffering a knock in training as did Fraser Franks, with goalkeeper Mark Tyler making his 250th appearance for the club.
The Luton boss had spoken about being wary of the razzmatazz surrounding new Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s appointment, but there as little of that on display in a first half where both sides cancelled each other out.
Town almost made the best of starts as Michael Harriman’s long ball forward was flicked on by Paul Benson and Luke Guttridge’s instinctive left footed volley was tipped over the bar by the back-pedalling Jon McLaughlin.
Tyler had his first real work on 23 minutes, claiming Edwards’ looping header as he was a virtual spectator in the first 45 minutes.
The recalled Whalley looked impressive on his return too, dropping a shoulder to see a shot charged down by the covering Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, while Hatters saw penalty shouts from both Whalley and Wilkinson waved away.
Luton then came close through Jonathan Smith as he just failed to connect at the back post with Guttridge’s inswinging corner.
After an opening period devoid of any real goalmouth action, the Brewers took the lead immediately after the break when Edwards was left unmarked to head home from a corner.
The goal was the first time Luton had trailed in the league for 12 games since Plymouth on September 6 as Griffiths was given a severe tongue-lashing from captain Steve McNulty after the goal.
Hatters boss Still reacted by swapping Jake Howells and Guttridge for Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Ricky Miller, but Smith wasted a good break forward, firing waywardly off target with Whalley well placed to his right.
Burton had a great chance to seal the points on 75 minutes as Stuart Beavon found Alex MacDonald racing through, but he slid agonisingly wide of the post with just Tyler to beat.
Town then won a cheap corner and after the ball was met by Wilkinson, Smith’s snapshot was blocked behind, while Griffiths was within inches of meeting the second delivery with his head.
Miller then picked a pocket in the area but took his snapshot early and could only flash wide on his right foot, while once McNulty’s header was pounced on by the impressive McLaughlin, Hatters’ chances were gone.
Town’s afternoon then ended on a low point as Wilkinson received his marching orders after tugging back Matty Palmer who was through on goal.
The result saw Hatters drop to third in the table, as Wycombe reclaimed top spot after a thumping 4-1 win at Cheltenham Town.
Brewers: Jon McLaughlin, Phil Edwards, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, John Mousinho (C), George Taft, Robbie Weir, Stuart Beavon, Alex MacDonald, Damien McCrory, Adam McGurk (Bryn Morris 73), Matty Palmer (Liam Slade 88).
Subs not used: Chris Weale, Lee Bell, Jacob Blyth, Joe Doyle, Marcus Harness.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Steve McNulty (C), Luke Wilkinson, Scott Griffiths, Shaun Whalley, Jonathan Smith, Luke Doyle (Andy Drury 70), Jake Howells (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 55), Luke Guttridge (Ricky Miller 63), Paul Benson.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Fraser Franks, Mark Cullen, Luke Rooney.
Booked: Weir 58.
Sent off: Wilkinson 90.
Referee: James Adcock.
Hatters MOM: Shaun Whalley. Looked a constant menace on his return to the side.