Dismal Hatters can't prevent Tykes from maintaining play-off charge
Championship: Luton Town 1 Barnsley 2
Luton turned in an insipid performance at Kenilworth Road this afternoon as they were beaten by play-off chasing Barnsley.
Bar a late surge in which keeper Simon Sluga saved a late penalty and sub James Collins immediately found the net with eight minutes to go, setting up a potential grandstand finish, it was largely an encounter to forget for those of a Hatters persuasion, Town well below par for long stages and comfortably second best.
Luton boss Nathan Jones made two changes for the clash following the Good Friday defeat at Derby County, handing Sam Nombe his full Championship debut in place of Harry Cornick, while Martin Cranie replaced James Bree.
It saw Town shuffle their defence, Jordan Clark over to right back, with Cranie left, while Glen Rea started in his more comfortable holding role berth.
After visiting forward Victor Adeboyejo swivelled to shoot wide early on, Town had their first real effort on 14 minutes, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's instinctive volley well gathered by Bradley Collins.
Ex-Luton youngster Cauley Woodrow's angled snapshot flew behind, before a fine run and trickery inside the area from Elijah Adebayo saw Barnsley have to get man back to defend doggedly.
With both sides struggling to turn the game into anything resembling a decent spectacle, the visitors then had a marvellous chance on 25 minutes, Callum Brittain found unmarked in the area, side-footing tamely at the sprawling Sluga.
Barnsley looked to up the tempo, Romal Palmer firing way, way over, but Valerian Ismael's side did lead on 27 minutes, as a low ball from Woodrow found its way to Daryl Dike, the on-loan Orlando City forward holding off Matty Pearson's weak attempts to tackle, burying a low shot beyond Sluga.
Luton still couldn't awake from their slumber, Ryan Tunnicliffe's slicing a hopeful 25-yarder well wide, as Jones' side swapped ends with plenty to do following a horribly pedestrian first half.
The boss made two alterations at the break, bringing on Sonny Bradley and Cornick for Rea and Nombe.
That saw the skipper partnering Pearson in the centre of defence, Naismith left back, Cranie right, with Clark moving forward from his right back berth to an attacking role on the left-hand side.
Clark also popped up on the right, with a good piece of wing-play almost leading to an opening, but the Tykes led 2-0 on the hour with a terrible goal from the hosts point of view.
Woodrow was allowed to pick the ball up from deep, walked past Bradley's challenge and then sent in a shot that Sluga could only fumble back into the danger area when Dike reacted quickest to prod home.
Callum Styles might have had a third, his angled drive turned behind by Sluga, as Luton still couldn't really get going, Clark's toepoke never troubling Collins.
Town threw on both James Collins and Kazenga LuaLua, while they should have had one back on 72 minutes, Naismith's excellent cross finding Cornick at the back post, who didn't get anywhere near enough power on his header.
Dike almost had a third when he motored through the Town defence but could only find the side-netting.
He then had a glorious opportunity to make it 3-0 and complete his hat-trick, when tripped by Pearson in the area with eight minutes to go.
The forward stepped up, only to see Sluga make an excellent low save, with the Croatian's follow up attempt even better, somehow hurling himself in the way of Michael Helik's shot.
Luton then transferred play straight up the other end, as LuaLua found Collins on the edge of the box and he smashed into the corner of the net to make it 2-1 and raise hopes of what had previously looked like an unlikely comeback.
Dewsbury-Hall leathered wildly over at the far post, before his corner was cleared off the line and a follow up cross dropped inches out of the reach of the sliding Bradley.
Barnsley looked to sew the points up through Dominik Frieser, who shot wide, but once Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu had ballooned his effort over from 20 yards, they did just that.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, Jordan Clark, Martin Cranie (Kazenga LuaLua 70), Matty Pearson, Kal Naismith, Glen Rea (Sonny Bradley 46), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Luke Berry 78), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Sam Nombe (Harry Cornick 46), Elijah Adebayo (James Collins 70).
Subs not used: Harry Isted, Joe Morrell, George Moncur, James Bree.
Tykes: Bradley Collins, Callum Styles, Mads Andersen, Callum Brittain, Cauley Woodrow (Dominik Frieser 77), Daryl Dike, Toby Sibbick, Romal Palmer (Aapo Halme 57), Alex Mowatt ©, Victor Adeboyejo (Carlton Morris 57), Michal Helik.
Subs not used: Jack Walton, Jordan Williams, Conor Chaplin, Clarke Oduor, Michael Sollbauer, Jasper Moon.
Booked: Bradley 54.
Referee: Matt Donohue.