Two own goals from Jack Robinson and Anis Slimane in four minutes saw Sheffield United fall to a crushing 3-2 defeat to Luton in a Premier League relegation six-pointer.
The Blades had been the better side for much of the game and had just taken a 2-1 lead when a double whammy of horrible own goals ultimately enabled the Hatters to claim their second successive league win.
After a contentious Luton corner was awarded, Robinson (77) attempted to nod away Carlton Morris’ cross, but instead glanced the ball into his own net.
Slimane (81) then scored the most unlucky of own-goals as Morris’ cross into the area came off his leg and past Wes Foderingham.
After finding themselves behind inside 17 minutes following Alfie Doughty’s fine goal – his first in the Premier League – Sheffield United had done well to fight back to take the lead. Oli McBurnie (61) equalised before captain Anel Ahmedhodzic (69) deservedly saw them ahead.
But those two heartbreaking moments mean Sheffield United remain bottom of the Premier League table – seven points from safety – while Luton move to within a point of 17th place.
Understandably, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was irritated after the game, saying in his post-match press conference: “I couldn’t give a monkeys how they feel, they’re professional footballers. It’s up to them to get themselves back.
“They’re really poor goals. I’ve been their biggest supporter, but I’m not here to rub their heads. I’ve been unbelievably complimentary of them, because they deserve that. I’m saying it as it is, as I’ve always done.
“It’s not unlucky, it’s poor in terms of approach and attitude. It’s poor we didn’t get out to stop the cross. Whether it’s a combination of goalkeeper or centre-halves that we’ve not squeezed out of the box, like on Friday night [against Aston Villa]. You don’t have that luxury, you’re going to get punished – that happened then and tonight.
“It’s not unlucky that the equaliser goes in off Jack Robinson’s head, it could’ve gone in off one of their boys. The third one, he just has a ball thrown into the middle of the box. Poor bit of defending and it comes off Anis.
“He’ll look at it and say it’s unlucky, but it’s not. The organisation’s poor, and these things will happen in those instances.”
How Sheffield United were beaten at Bramall Lane
Buoyed by their win against Newcastle on Saturday, Luton began the game well, and made it count when they went ahead inside 20 minutes. It was a fine turn of pace from Doughty up against Gustavo Hamer, before squirming his shot through the legs of Foderingham.
But after Hamer’s curling free kick was pushed away by Thomas Kaminski on the half an hour, a positive spell for Sheffield United followed, and they should have equalised just before the break. Andre Brooks saw a piledriver blocked behind, before Auston Trusty saw his header ping off the woodwork from the resulting corner. However, they have now failed to score in the first half in 16 of 19 Premier League games this season.
Chris Wilder switched his side of a 5-3-2 at half-time, and they continued to rack up the chances after the break.
And the first time the Hatters were caught out of shape, Sheffield United punished them. James McAtee powered into the box, with Albert Sambi Lokonga making the challenge. But McAtee recovered to poke the ball into McBurnie’s path. He took a touch before hitting the net via a deflection off goalkeeper Kaminski.
Luton’s defence crumbled further as Sheffield United took a deserved lead. It was a goalmouth scramble with McBurnie, McAtee and Max Lowe all making attempts to score, but it was returning captain Ahmedhodzic who came onto the loose ball to fire home.
But just as quickly as they had taken the lead, Sheffield United were pegged back. It came after a contentious corner was awarded by referee Sam Allison, which Luton recycled after Doughty’s initial delivery. The ball was sent back in, but it was Robinson who was there first to inadvertently see the ball past his own goalkeeper.
And the Blades’ run of bad luck continued as Luton went back ahead in the cruellest of manners. A throw-in in found Morris, who send the ball into the area. Slimane was waiting to defend, but it smacked him on the leg before slicing into his own net, leaving Wilder and his players with their heads in their hands.
It was incredibly harsh after a spirited performance from Sheffield United, who were unable to snatch a point at the death.