Heartache for Luton as Bamford steals late Leeds winner
Championship: Luton Town 1 Leeds United 2
Luton suffered a truly gutting last-minute defeat against Leeds this afternoon, beaten by Patrick Bamford's close-range strike with just 60 seconds to go.
It had looked like the Hatters would hold on for a valuable and valiant point, keeping out their promotion-chasing visitors for large chunks of the second period, before Bamford popped up to win it for the Whites, condemning Graeme Jones' side to a fifth successive loss.
Defeat was incredibly harsh on Luton who deserve something from the game for their effort alone, but Leeds held their nerve even when the clock ticked into 89, as their calm and measured approach paid off with the winner.
Hatters went into the contest with five changes from the woeful defeat at Reading last time out, Izzy Brown, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, James Bree, Andrew Shinnie and captain Sonny Bradley all back in for Martin Cranie, Jacob Butterfield, Luke Bolton, Callum McManaman and Lloyd Jones.
The early stages saw Leeds begin to dominate the ball, as they looked increasingly comfortable when knocking it around inside their own half, often looking to spring wing back Jack Harrison forward on the left.
After a few range-finders, the one time he was picked out, he easily beat Bree's outstretched boot to deliver a dangerous cross that James Shea held on to well.
Town had the odd moment of danger, usually when Brown or Shinnie were trying to drive forward, before Mpanzu went closest, lofting an effort over from outside the box.
Brown weighted a lovely pass into Harry Cornick, whose effort was charged down, before a slip by Shinnie saw Leeds break, with Bamford's effort almost catching out Shea, who made a very awkward save at head height.
A full-blooded sliding challenge by Shinnie on 25 minutes saw the home crowd start to really get involved, as Cornick's cross was turned behind for a corner.
Town unveiled a move straight off the training ground, with Brown drilling his flag kick into the box, Mpanzu blocking his man off and Bradley volleying narrowly wide of the target.
Leeds then started to turn the screw though as they were inches away from moving in front on the half hour, Bamford getting behind Luton's defence and his side-footed effort hitting the outside of the post.
From the follow-up, Shea pulled off a superb double to save to keep Town on level terms, as he got a good hand to divert Kalvin Phillips' daisycutter away from the bottom corner, and then got up to block from Harrison's follow-up.
Leeds kept on pushing, Mateusz Klich and Luke Ayling both sending shots off target as Marcelo Bielsa's side begain to take the game by the scruff of the neck, Bamford's header straight at Shea.
The Town stopper kept his side in it once more on 41 minutes, as a fine United move saw Tyler Roberts in acres of space and his deflected drew was clawed behind by Shea.
Luton did have one last opportunity before the break, Brown going for the top corner, missing by quite some margin.
After the interval, Leeds looked to continue their dominance, taking the lead with a real dollop of controversy, as Brown appeared to have his heels clearly clipped in the build-up, but official John Brooks gave nothing.
The ball was still some distance away from the hosts' goal at this point, but United countered with clinical precision, as they transferred the ball to Bamford, who inside the box, finally beat Shea's resistance at his near post.
United almost made it 2-0 immediately from the kick-off as Town gave the ball away, before a challenge by Luke Ayling on Dan Potts ignited the home support, and they saw their side level within three minutes.
Once again it was Brown who was the architect, doing superbly to dig out a wonderful cross from the right, on to the head of Collins, who nodded past Casilla for his first goal since the end of September.
Cornick's effort was parried behind by Casilla, but Town thought they had moved in front from the corner, Pearson converting after Casilla had blocked a header, only to see the goal ruled out for a linesman's flag.
Chances came and went at both ends, Bradley hammering over on his right after a free kick dropped to him, while Leeds should really have retaken the lead through Bamford, the £7m striker volleying waywardly after finding some space in the area.
Shinnie tried his luck from 25 yards, Casilla gathering with ease, while Shea kept up his barrier, stopping Hernandez's side-footed attempt and then denying Klich twice.
However, all of Town's hard work was undone with a minute to go, as Leeds once more found space inside their area and Bamford slid in to convert a cross past Shea.
With four minutes of injury time, Luton should have stolen a point in the very last second, as Potts was left completely unmarked from a corner, only to see his header bounce down and over the bar.
Hatters: James Shea, James Bree, Dan Potts, Matty Pearson, Sonny Bradley ©, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Andrew Shinnie (Luke Bolton 90), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Izzy Brown (Kazenga LuaLua 75), James Collins, Harry Cornick (Callum McManaman 75).
Subs not used: Simon Sluga, Brendan Galloway, Lloyd Jones, Jacob Butterfield.
Leeds: Kiko Casilla, Luke Ayling ©, Ben White, Patrick Bamford, Tyler Roberts (Jack Clarke 71), Stuart Dallas, Pablo Hernandez, Jack Harrison (Helder Costa 64)(, Kalvin Phillips, Gaetano Berardi (Liam Cooper 59), Mateusz Klich.
Subs not used: Illan Meslier, Barry Douglas, Ezgjan Alioski, Robbie Gotts.
Booked: Ayling 53.
Referee: John Brooks.