Neil Warnock’s historic night turned sour as his Middlesbrough side were beaten 3-1 by Luton at Kenilworth Road.

Warnock took charge of his 1,602nd game, an English football record, and Josh Coburn’s 15th-minute goal put Boro ahead. But Luton turned the game on its head in the second half with three goals in five minutes from Sonny Bradley, Elijah Adebayo and Harry Cornick.

“That’s football, isn’t it,” Warnock said afterwards. “I can’t fault them for effort, it’s just that determination to keep your goal intact really that we haven’t got enough of at the minute, with the lads that we’ve got missing.

“We’ve lost the game, three simple goals we’ve given away and yet it’s a game I think we should have won, so it’s disappointing for me on two fronts.”

The 72-year-old manager added: “[Kenilworth Road] is a good football ground. Places like QPR, this – I love the atmosphere like that. I think [Luton fans] respect me, they’ve always given me stick here, and I always give it back if I can – there’s not enough good humour like that.”

Luton’s manager, Nathan Jones, was keen to pay tribute to Warnock after the game. “You only have respect for him,” he said. “If you get to 100 games you’ve been a decent manager … if you get to 1,602, you have to do something very, very well. Fair play, he’s had a wonderful career. You look back in awe and say that’s the career you want to carve out.”

Coventry missed the chance to move into the top three, going down 2-1 at home against Swansea. The away side were two up inside 12 minutes through Jamie Paterson and Joel Piroe and, although Kyle McFadzean pulled one back in the 28th minute, they could not find an equaliser and lost their first home game this season.

The Swansea manager, Russell Martin, was full of praise for his two goalscorers after his side’s fourth win in five games. “Joel and Jamie have been incredible for us,” he said. “Forget all the goals, the defensive job Joel does for the team is really appreciated. Jamie, you run out of superlatives to describe him.”

Birmingham were 3-0 winners against Bristol City, with Riley McGree scoring the opener on his birthday. Scott Hogan and Gary Gardner made sure of the points in the second half at St Andrew’s.

After the game the Birmingham manager, Lee Bowyer, said that McGree, who is on loan from the MLS side Charlotte FC, will be returning to the US in January. “Apparently he is going back,” Bowyer said. “That’s a blow. There’s lots of blows at the minute – we are running out of players.”

Benik Afobe’s 71st-minute effort gave Millwall a 1-0 victory against Reading to lift them into the top eight while Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United played out a 1-1 draw. Morgan Gibbs-White struck 12 minutes from time for the Blades but Lewis Grabban levelled matters five minutes later.

Fifth-placed Huddersfield looked like they would take the points when Danny Ward put them in front late on at Peterborough but Jonson Clarke-Harris marked his return from suspension with the equaliser.