YORK City delivered a crushing blow in the fight for Blue Square Bet Premier play-off places when late goals by Paddy McLaughlin and James Meredith secured a 2-1 win at Luton Town last night.

Andre Gray had earlier given the Hatters a fifth-minute lead but the Minstermen grew in stature from the half-hour mark and were worthy of maximum points by the final whistle.

Victory also meant the Minstermen extended their record-breaking unbeaten run of away games in the league to 13.

Luton, though, have now gone seven matches without a win and home supporters were screaming for underfire manager Gary Brabin’s head at the final whistle, while remonstrating aggressively with their board of directors.

City boss Gary Mills made two changes to the side that started Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Bath.

Joint-top scorer Jason Walker returned to the starting line up after his recent hamstring problems and on-loan Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson was also selected at left-back having recovered from an ankle injury with Meredith restored to midfield.

Ashley Chambers dropped to the bench, while Scott Brown was left out of the squad completely.

The hosts, meanwhile, included former Minstermen Alex Lawless and Janos Kovacs in their team.

Luton forged ahead after just five minutes when Gray showed determination to beat Chris Smith to a ball through the right channel and then fired across Michael Ingham into the bottom corner.

Gray went on to fire weakly at Ingham from the edge of the box but forced the City ’keeper to save smartly with his feet on 12 minutes after hesitancy from Chris Doig had also presented Danny Crow with a chance in front of goal.

A well-timed tackle by Gibson then prevented Lawless from testing Ingham from eight yards and Kovacs headed wide from Robbie Willmott’s corner.

Rampaging right-back Curtis Osano also exchanged passes with Crow before firing wide of Ingham’s near post from 20 yards.

It was the Minstermen, though, who finished the half strongest and Jamie Reed should have done better than fire straight at home ’keeper Mark Tyler after being released for a run on goal by McLaughlin in the 29th minute.

Moments later, Lanre Oyebanjo rattled the base of Tyler’s left-hand post from 20 yards following Matty Blair’s square pass, while McLaughlin sliced well wide with the last chance of the half.

Home boss Brabin changed tactics for the second period, moving Lawless inside from the right flank and matching City’s 4-3-3 formation.

Blair missed the target with the first chance after the restart, heading wide from six yards after Challinor’s cross.

But City might have fallen further behind on 53 minutes when McLaughlin inadvertently presented Gray with a great chance in front of goal only for the on-loan Hinckley forward to blast straight at Ingham.

At the other end, McLaughlin combined with Reed before forcing Tyler into a near-post save and Meredith curled wide from 20 yards.

An ambitious 40-yard Oyebanjo lob was then tipped over by a back-pedalling Tyler and the Republic of Ireland under-21 international also went close with a well-struck, long-range drive moments later. But it was McLaughlin who got City’s deserved equaliser on 80 minutes.

Jake Howells received a yellow card for chopping Blair down close to the byline and, when substitute Eugen Bopp pulled the resulting free-kick back to the edge of the box, an unmarked McLaughlin drove into Tyler’s bottom left-hand corner.

City then grabbed the winning goal six minutes later when a stinging drive by Chambers was saved by Tyler only for Meredith to sidefoot in from five yards.

Bopp went on to test Tyler from the edge of the box and Kovacs, thrown upfield by Luton for the closing stages, volleyed wide as chants of “Brabin Out” and “You’re Getting Sacked In The Morning”

rang around a frustrated Kenilworth Road at the end of the match.

match facts

Luton Town 1, York City 2 (McLaughlin 80; Meredith 86)

York City: Michael Ingham 8, Jon Challinor 8, Chris Doig 7, Chris Smith 7, Ben Gibson 8, Lanre Oyebanjo 8, James Meredith 8, Patrick McLaughlin 9, Matty Blair 7, Jason Walker 7, Jamie Reed 7.

Subs: Ashley Chambers 8 (for Reed, 64), Eugen Bopp 8 (for Challinor, 68), Daniel Parslow (for McLaughlin, 90). Not used: Adriano Moké, Matthew Blinkhorn.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire

Star man: McLaughlin – always looked dangerous in the final third of the pitch.

Luton: Mark Tyler, Curtis Osano, George Pilkington, Janos Kovacs, Jake Howells, Alex Lawless, Keith Keane, Godfrey Poku (Adam Watkins, 85), Robbie Willmott, Danny Crow (Craig McAllister, 58), Andre Gray (Stuart Fleetwood, 73). Subs (not used): Shane Blackett, John Paul Kissock.

Booked: Willmott 40, Poku 63, Howells 80, Lawless 87, Watkins 90.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Steve Bratt (Walsall).

Attendance: 5,925 (196 away fans).