Sheffield United cut the gap to safety to seven points as they claimed only their third Premier League win of the season with a 3-1 victory against Luton at Kenilworth Road.
Rob Edwards’ side were the form team in the relegation fight but here they were undone by the Blades, in part due to a lacklustre first half in which Cameron Archer and James McAtee – from the penalty spot – scored to open a two-goal gap.
Luton had taken 11 points from their last six games, with Sheffield United just two in the equivalent period, yet despite dominating possession the hosts were tripped up by a dogged display by the league’s bottom side.
They rallied after the break, halving the deficit with a penalty of their own from Carlton Morris.
Yet in pushing for an equaliser they were left exposed on the break, and on just such an attack Vinicius Souza rattled one past Thomas Kaminski to seal a first win on the road for Chris Wilder’s side and shine a glimmer of hope over their survival bid.
Blades flashed Luton a warning almost from the kick-off, McAtee wrapping his left boot around the ball and sending it an inch wide of Kaminski’s post. It was the only chance of a furtive opening during which the visitors lost defender Rhys Norrington-Davies to injury after three minutes.
Luton looked most dangerous down the left where Morris and Alfie Doughty linked up well, tormenting Jayden Bogle on the right of a Blades back five. But on the whole, the first quarter passed in a stupor, with little of the intensity that brought Edwards’ team a 4-0 win over Brighton here last time out.
The tempo threatened to accelerate just before the half-hour mark when Archer dragged badly wide on his left with only Kaminski to beat, as home fans’ anxieties were piqued.
Fortunately for the visitors he would have another chance moments later and this time there was no mistaking the outcome.
Archer bounced the last defender Gabe Osho off the ball with a firm shoulder and sprinted infield off the left. Bearing down on the goalkeeper, he shaped to go for the far corner but instead cleverly pulled it inside the near post for 1-0.
It would get better within minutes, with Reece Burke penalised by an on-field VAR check for handling Souza’s header. From the spot, McAtee fired his side into their first two-goal lead of the season.
Sheffield United had never lost a Premier League game having led by more than a goal, yet any hope Wilder might have had of frustrating the hosts and closing out the game were shot down five minutes into the second half.
Another handball decision, awarded when referee Chris Kavanagh was again summoned to the pitchside monitor, gave Luton a way back, Souza this time the offender as he leapt to head away a corner. Morris stroked home the penalty, and home fans sniffed a famous comeback.
Morris forced goalkeeper Wes Foderingham into a save scrambling low to keep the ball from creeping into the bottom corner, emphasising the fragility of the Blades’ lead.
But Luton could not maintain their buoyancy and with 18 minutes to go they were two behind again.
Osho looked initially to have snuffed out the danger when he dispossessed Archer running at the heart of the defence.
Yet instead of clearing his lines, he lazily gave the ball away to Ben Osborn, who looked to his right to find Souza overlapping.
With a swing of his right boot, the Brazilian lashed it across Kaminski and in for 3-1.