Chester FC went down to a 3-0 defeat at Luton, thanks to the hosts grabbing three second half goals, which leaves The Blues on the edge of the relegation battle, but still outside the bottom four.
Goals from Matt Robinson, Andre Gray and Paul Benson scored the goals that broke Chester's hearts after the under-strength team were battling their way towards at least a point at Kenilworth Road.
With the Blues picking up several injuries in the last few weeks, Steve Burr was struggling to name a 16 man squad for the game, even more so when striker Gareth Seddon took ill on the coach on the way down to Kenilworth Road.
Michael Kay, Joe Heath, Nathan Turner and Jamie Menagh all came in with Matty Brown, Craig Mahon and Ricky Bridge all missing through injury following the draw against Southport in midweek.
A crowd of over 8,500 were expecting the runaway league leaders to coast to a win that would put them 14 points clear at the top of the Skrill Premier, but Chester certainly belied their status for 70 minutes of the match, surprising the hosts.
It was Chester though who had the first chance of the game with Nathan Turner shooting wide, and that was quickly followed by a shot over the top from Andy Bond.
Luton could have taken an expected lead though on 15 minutes when Aaron Chapman turned a Ronnie Henry shot after he was set up by the experienced Paul Benson.
Chester then saw a spate of yellow cards, with three players heading into the referee's book in the space of just five minutes. First name in was Joe Heath after he brought down leading scorer Andre Grey, and then Michael Kay received a yellow for a foul on the same player just minutes later. John Rooney was then accused of timewasting despite waiting to take an attacking free kick.
Jamie Menagh and Andy Bond then went into the book too to complete a frustrating spell for the Blues, but it was Chester who almost grabbed a shock lead just five minutes before the break when Rooney saw his half volley go just inches wide from Mark Tyler's goal.
Chester then regrouped at half time but Luton came out in the second half knowing a goal could kick start their day, but again it was Chester who were looking as though they could possibly upset coupons around the country, and Paul Linwood could count himself unlucky when his header was touched over the bar by Tyler.
Luton could and possibly should have taken the lead 10 minutes into the second half when Scott Grffiths somehow fired over from 8 yards, and the screw seemed to be turning when Gray's effort was superbly stopped by Chapman on 60 minutes to further frustrate the Hatters.
Griffiths then should have put the home side 1-0 up on 65 minutes but his free header boucned on the turf and over the bar when he really should have done better.
John Still then made a couple of changes with Mark Cullen and Matt Robinson coming on and it was the latter sub who inflicted a cruel blow on Chester's increasing hopes with just 20 minutes to go when he delivered a cross from the left which somehow flew over Chapman and into the far corner to give the hosts the lead.
Chester then tried admirably to get themselves back into the game and Rooney saw his long range effort brilliantly saved by Tyler in the Luton goal but the Blues were undone just 7 minutes before the end when Andre Gray netted his 27th goal of the season after he found himself through on goal.
With the match now over as a content it was perhaps no surprise when in injury time Paul Benson put the game beyone doubt with a third goal, although there did appear to be a handball by the striker before he fired the ball home.
So, a tough day for the patched up Blues who can be proud of their efforts and who knows what would have happened if a flukey goal had not broken the deadlock.
It's back to the Swansway Chester Stadium on Tuesday then for the crunch match with Tamworth, kick of 7.45pm.
Luton Town: Tyler, Henry, Franks, McNulty, Griffiths, Ruddock (L Rooney 82), Howells (Cullen 62), Lawless, Parry (Robinson 67), Gray, Benson.
Subs: Shaw, Justham.
Goals: Robinson 70, Gray 83, Benson 90.
Booked: Gray, Lawless.
Chester FC: Chapman, L Turner, Kay, Linwood, Heath, N Turner, Bond, Jarrett, J Rooney, Menagh, Hobson.
Subs: Danby, Lindfield, Peers, Carlton, Blake.
Booked: Heath, Kay, Rooney, Bond, Menagh.
Referee: Rob Whitton (Essex)