SADLY Luton’s travel sickness in Yorkshire does not stretch from the south to the west as the leaders claimed an ugly win on a filthy night at Valley Parade.

League One’s version of the Invincibles may be unbeaten in over half a season but they had come unstuck on their previous two visits to the Broadacres at Doncaster and Barnsley.

But they made it third time lucky at City’s expense to extend their remarkable unbeaten run to a 24th game.

Gary Bowyer’s first defeat at the helm ensured the Bantams remain second from bottom – and now only goal difference ahead of Wimbledon who won again.

But relegation will not be decided by losing to a side who have steamrollered pretty much everyone in the division.

Storm Gareth guaranteed it was no football feast but City put in a shift against opponents close to putting one foot in the Championship.

Luton’s arrival in West Yorkshire marked 150 days since they had last lost in the league on October 13.

To put that in City perspective, that 3-2 defeat to Barnsley came at a time when David Hopkin had recently celebrated his first win in charge, Sean Scannell had just got injured and the second-half meltdown at Gillingham was still a fortnight away.

A lot has gone on in the intervening period, to put it mildly.

But Luton have surged on regardless, even allowing for the exit of Nathan Jones to Stoke in January. You have barely seen the join since club legend Mick Harford took the reins on a temporary basis.

Opposite number Bowyer knows the ropes of being a caretaker chief from his own experience and believes Harford should be in the running for manager of the year if he steers the Hatters safely through their promotion course.

Not that Bowyer’s Bantams went into last night’s encounter with any sense of inferiority.

The boost of that overdue victory against Peterborough had lifted spirits for the 10-game dogfight to salvage their League One lives.

Bowyer had named the side that played the bulk of Saturday’s game as full backs Paul Caddis and Adam Chicksen returned from the start. The big shock was the inclusion of Josh Wright on the bench – out of the wilderness for a first squad appearance since November 24.

Swirling rain greeted the players from kick-off as the buffeting wind immediately became a factor.

Luton knocked the ball about confidently, hardly a surprise given they had forgotten how to lose. But the crowd were quickly into it as City looked to upset the formbook.

Successive City corners came to nothing before the visitors drew first blood on 17 minutes. Andrew Shinnie – or “Shinniesta” as the Luton fans call him - played in Jack Stacey in the corner of the box and the winger drilled low past Richard O’Donnell.

With that advantage, the leaders stepped up a gear to start showing why they have been so dominant all season.

Stacey let loose from a similar position, O’Donnell beating this one away, and the keeper was in action again to deal with a 30-yarder from Shinnie.

It felt like a flashback to the game at Kenilworth Road when Luton blew City away with three goals in a devastating spell. But this time City kept it at one as O’Donnell once more found himself in the thick of it to smother a close-range flick by Elliot Lee.

The white shirts were pouring forward in numbers at every opportunity but City managed to calm things down and almost caught them out with a corner routine from the training ground.

Luton were briefly down to 10 men for another corner as Alan McCormack went off for treatment – and City went so close to cashing in.

Hope Akpan flicked Jacob Butterfield’s corner across goal where Nathaniel Knight-Percival was just unable to apply the killer touch at the far post.

That got the Kop going as they appreciated City’s response to the earlier Luton flurry.

The visitors continued to carry an attacking threat and Luke Berry, on for the injured McCormack, saw his shot charged down by the busy Caddis.

But for a team with such an appalling record this season after going behind, City had shown their mettle to stay in it – the leaders, while deserving their half-time lead, knew they were in a game.

Bowyer’s frustration would have been at seeing his side rack up seven corners without making them count. They had not forced a single shot on the Luton goal.

The Hatters had no such problems and were a whisker away from doubling their lead at the start of the second half. Berry rescued an overhit corner and Danny Hylton nodded just over the bar.

City hit back with Butterfield’s deep free-kick nearly scrambled home by Anthony O’Connor before a big penalty shout for a shove on Knight-Percival.

James Collins turned O’Connor inside out at the other end and fired over. But City finally got their shot tally off the mark with Butterfield and then Akpan both clearing the bar from distance.

Like Saturday, City were trying to increase the tempo playing towards the Kop who also found their voice. But they could not find a way through a solid back four who have conceded only 29 goals all season.

City just lacked that extra yard of pace to break through, although keeper James Shea stayed calm to knee a ball away from the advancing David Ball in his own penalty area.

Bowyer replaced Ball with Billy Clarke with 12 minutes left – and the sub promptly flashed an off-balance header wide.

As the conditions grew even more unpleasant in the closing stages, the City boss also turned to Omari Patrick. It was the youngster’s first appearance since May, having spent the first half of the season with Yeovil.

But City’s late huff and puff bounced off the solid wall of resistance as Luton celebrated the sort of win that gets promotion.

For the losers, Saturday’s trip to Oxford – who are four points ahead of them - is one of critical proportions. That really is a “must-win” affair given the tense scenario at the bottom.