Accrington Stanley’s four game unbeaten run came to an end as they lost 2-0 to promotion-chasing Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.
Jayden Stockley’s first half header had given the hosts the lead against the run of play and Luke Guttridge’s close-range finish put the seal on a comfortable victory for the Hatters.
John Coleman named an unchanged side from Tuesday night’s win over league leaders Burton Albion, keeping faith with the 3-5-2 system that worked so well against the Brewers.
It was Stanley who had the first sight of goal as the ball dropped invitingly for Tuesday’s matchwinner Josh Windass but he slapped wide from all of 40 yards.
Terry Gornell raced in behind the Luton defence, but saw his clipped effort smothered by home goalkeeper Elliot Justham. The rebound fell to Windass, who saw his shot hacked away from danger by Scott Griffiths.
The home defence had to be on their mettle as Stanley bombarded the penalty area with crosses. Dangerous deliveries from Windass and Kal Naismith were dealt with by Luke Wilkinson.
The Reds continued to impress and were creating opportunities on a regular basis. Gornell headed wide from Naismith cross and, when a cross came in from Anthony Barry on the opposite flank, nodded the ball straight at Justham.
Another chance fell to John Coleman’s side a minute later as space opened up for Windass to run half the length of the pitch but his shot from the edge of the penalty area was deflected wide of goal.
Elliot Lee had the first effort on goal for the home side as he sent a free-kick high over Scott Davies’ crossbar from 25 yards before forcing the goalkeeper into his first save of the afternoon with a header from Jake Howells’ cross that Davies did well to palm away.
From the resulting corner, Luton took the lead as former Accrington striker Stockley rose highest to plant a header into the back of the net in the middle of a crowded penalty area.
Stanley were forced into a change in first half stoppage time as recent signing Matt Crooks had to replace the injured Dean Winnard in the centre of defence.
In the opening stages of the second half, Lee had a penalty appeal turned down as he crumpled under a challenge from Naismith but referee Lee Collins waved away the protests.
At the other end, Windass cut inside a Luton defender but his shot from distance was well off-target and flew over the top of Justham’s goal.
Luton doubled their lead on the hour as Lee’s pace and trickery saw him escape the Accrington defence before squaring the ball across the face of goal for the unmarked Guttridge to slot past Davies and into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
It was almost three and easy for the hosts when Cameron McGeehan’s cross reached Howells at the back post but the Luton winger could only head wide.
Luton substitute Mark Cullen flicked a header towards goal and Davies scrambled across to turn it behind for a corner.
Both sides continued to trade chances in injury time as Shay McCartan scuffed wide from 25 yards before Cullen’s rasping drive was tipped over by Davies.
McCartan had the final opportunity of the afternoon when he danced through a couple of challenges, but his shot lacked the power to trouble Justham as the Reds slipped to a defeat which left them as far away from the play-off places as they are from the relegation zone.
Stanley: Davies; Conneely, Winnard (Crooks 45), Atkinson; Mingoia, Barry (McCartan 68), Joyce, Procter, Naismith (Maguire 82); Windass; Gornell.
Subs not used: Dawber, Liddle, Bruna, Bowerman.
Attendance 8.700 (87 away)