GOALS in each half from Jack Stacey and James Collins condemned the Brewers to a fourth defeat in five league games as Luton Town enhanced their push for promotion from League One
Stacey fired home clinically on seventeen after taking a crossfield ball from Andrew Shinnie under his spell and Collins found the back of the net from the penalty spot on 73 minutes just when it seemed like there could still be something in the game for Albion.
After the euphoria of Carabao Cup glory on Tuesday evening it was back to the nitty gritty of League One at Kenilworth Road against the in-form Hatters and despite a sickness bug having gone around the squad during the week there was just the one change to the starting eleven. Devante Cole, cup-tied at Middlesbrough, returned to spearhead the attack as skipper Jake Buxton dropped to the bench and the team took on a more accustomed look to the back four.
Albion started brightly with Reece Hutchinson and Jake Hesketh looking particularly industrious down the left hand side, settling nicely into the game inside the first quarter of an hour. But despite limiting the hosts early on one angled ball over the top from Shinnie found Albion wanting on 17 minutes. STACEY was quickly onto it to show good control to being the ball down and fire a low shot beyond Collins.
The goal was just what the home side needed to settle them down and Harry Cornick momentarily thought he was through on goal latching onto a flicked header but the raised flag of an assistant ruled him offside just as he was about to shoot.
Luton were forced into a change on 28 minutes when skipper Glen Rea had to be replaced. The experienced midfielder had already received treatment after an earlier incident and after going to ground again headed straight down the tunnel to get more with Jorge Grant sent on to fill the void. Grant was quickly involved picking out another intelligent run from Stacey down the right, the midfielder this time picking out a cross that Collins intercepted before it could reach Cornick sniffing at the back post for a chance.
Hesketh found himself on a yellow card on 33 minutes after conceding possession and then trying to make a desperate challenge on Stacey in his attempts to atone for his error. Referee Craig Hicks was not impressed and produced the card.
Albion had barely tested James Shea up to this point after their bright opening but Cole make the keeper work six minutes from the break making the most of a Brayford pass to turn and drive at the Luton box with a combination of the former Arsenal youngster and a covering defender doing just enough to deny the Albion striker on the edge of the six yard box.
The Brewers looked more threatening as half time approached but they still trailed to Stacey's clinical finish when the whistle of referee Hicks sounded.
Half time: Luton Town 1-0 Burton Albion
The start of the second half saw a switch around for the Brewers as Ben Fox replaced Hesketh. Fox dropped straight in at right back with Lucas Akins switching to the left hand side of midfield. It certainly gave the Brewers some encouragement and Akins was quickly able to create an opening for himself tricking his way across the edge of the penaly area and finding room for a deflectedshot wide of the post. From the corner Cole managed to rise highest inside the six yard box but could not keep his header down as Shea watched it clear his crossbar.
But Luton were soon flooding forwards and it took a deflection from Quinn as he lunged in to block Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's driven effort and send it over at the expense of a corner.
Ben Turner also found himself in trouble with the match official when Cornick outpaced him out wide and cutting back inside found himself pulled down by the Albion defender. James Justin's wickedly curling near post free kick was parried by Collins who then did well to pick up the loose ball as Luton looked to head home the rebound.
Quinn was quickly to follow into the book after bringing Mpanzu down as he looked to drive forwards and set up another attack.
Albion were looking more lively as the hour mark came around and a good moving involving the Academy products of Hutchinson, Harness and Fox worked a chance for Cole who was closed down at the near post.
Whilst they looked relatively comfortable with a single goal lead they were more settled when former Albion striker COLLINS gave them a two goal advantage from the penalty spot. Collins was instrumental in setting up the chance teeing up Danny Hylton, who had only been on as a substitute for a couple of minutes, to cut inside before being sent tumbling by Quinn's challenge.
Quinn soon made way for Kieran Wallace to get his first League One minutes in a Brewers shirt, the Irish midfielder trudging off cutting a frustrated figure on his way to the bench.
A final change for the Brewers came with just over eight minutes remaining with Cole, who had worked hard for little reward coming off to be replaced by Will Miller.
Hylton was continuing to prove a thorn in Albion's side since his introduction and when he was brought down just outside the area by Collins, drawn out of his goal to try and clear the danger there was a real chance of a third for Luton. Elliot lee fired in the free kick from the edge of the 'D' and Hylton thought he had got a vital touch to increase the Hatters lead but the offside flag denied him.
That was the last meaningful action as Albion tried in vain to grab a consolation with Luton more than happy to contain the men in white and contemplate Christmas in the top two after a blistering run on form. Albion will be looking to have the feelgood factor back on Boxing Day back at the Pirelli.