The Hatters go into the final week of the season top of Sky Bet League One on goal difference from Barnsley after Burton Albion came from behind to win 2-1 at the Pi
James Collins had fired the Town ahead in the first half with his 25th goal of the season, but the Brewers hit back with a second-half double from joint top scorer Lucas Akins giving them all three points.
That sets up a final week of the season in which the Town could still be promoted without playing on Tuesday night, should Portsmouth and Sunderland's results from their games in hand against Peterborough and Fleetwood go in our favour, before a huge clash with Oxford at Kenilworth Road next Saturday.
Harford made just one change to his starting line-up, with James Shea returning in goal after missing the last two games through illness, and Marek Stech dropping to the bench.
The only other alteration to the teamsheet on the bench was with the return of Alan McCormack after six weeks out injured, the veteran midfielder replacing youth team defender Corey Panter.
With the wind wreaking havoc with any attempt to play the ball in the air, the Hatters soon settled into their usual rhythm and it was the trusty combination down the right – Shinnie to Stacey – that created the first opening in the tenth minute, but Berry’s far post header went wide.
The hosts were playing some good stuff too though, and it was Albion who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening quarter when Marcus Harness spun on the edge of the Town box and fired in a shot that Shea tipped onto the crossbar.
The opening goal came on the half-hour, and inevitably it was that man Collins, who was in the right place at the right time to profit after Lee had wriggled his way past John Brayford on the left of the Albion area, only to see his shot saved by Stephen Bywater.
After seeing the ball hit the back of the net for the 25th time this season, former Brewers loanee Collins raced to the Town bench to celebrate, before taking the acclaim of the 1,700-plus travelling Hatters at the other end of the ground.
The Hatters survived a huge penalty shout three minutes later when Scott Fraser went down, referee Peter Wright waving play on, before Shea had to dive to his right to keep out a Kyle McFadzean drive.
The Town keeper was alert to another Harness effort from distance three minutes before half-time, but Mpanzu relieved the pressure that was mounting by nicking the ball and bursting from the edge of the Town penalty area, getting the it back via LuaLua in the Albion area, and curling a 20-yarder over the bar.
With the wind at their backs, the Town started the second half well in the ascendancy and Bywater was almost caught out as Justin drilled a right-wing corner in to his near post, but thr Burton keeper fisted the ball
A series of corners followed, and from the third, Pearson had the ball in the back of the net with a far post volley, but referee Wright ruled it out for a foul in the six-yard box.
The hosts started to apply pressure at the other end, and they were level just after the hour when Lucas Akins turned the ball in from close range after Brayford headed Stephen Quinn's left-wing free-kick back across goal.
The Brewers were on top by this point, and midfielder Jamie Allen fired high and wide from 25 yards as the Town struggled to gain a grip on the game, before Harness had the freedom of the area but steered his shot wide of the upright.
Burton were ahead in the 73rd minute when Akins grabbed his second of the game, getting on the end of another ball flashed across the six-yard box by Brayford.
Harford, having already introduced George Moncur for the injured LuaLua, made a double substitution with just over ten minutes to go, bringing on forwards Harry Cornick and Jason Cummings for Lee and Berry.
Cummings was soon on the floor in the box after going down under a challenge from Kieran Wallace as he looked to get on the end of a cross from Mpanzu, but ref Wright was unmoved.
TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley ©, Justin, Mpanzu, Berry (Cummings 79), Shinnie, Lee (Cornick 78), Collins, LuaLua (Moncur 72). Subs: McCormack, Baptiste, Connolly, Stech.
Goals: Collins 30
ALBION: Bywater, Brayford ©, Allen, McFadzean, Fraser (Hutchinson 84), Akins, Fox (McCrory 88), Harness, Wallace, Quinn, Daniel. Subs: Hawkins, Bradley, Miller, Hutchinson, Campbell, Clarke.
Goals: Akins 62, 73
REFEREE: Peter Wright
ATT: 4,903 (1,721 Hatters)