Striker Ashley Barnes scored a late winner from the penalty spot as Burnley took another step towards the Premier League with a battling 1-0 victory at Luton.

The Hatters had started well and had the first real chance. Elijah Adebayo linked well with Carlton Morris before going for goal, with goalkeeper Aro Muric saving well to his left at the expense of a corner.

Tom Lockyer’s header was easy enough for the visiting stopper, before Burnley had their first real opening on the half-hour – a 30-yard free-kick from Johann Gudmondsson which forced keeper Ethan Horvath into a good save away to his right.

Still Luton looked to upset the form table, though, with Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu juggling with the ball and then having a crack which Muric gathered to his left.

The Hatters should have gone ahead after 38 minutes when Amari’i Bell found the run of Mpanzu in the box and he picked out Adebayo but from just eight yards, the forward could only side-foot wastefully over the crossbar.

Marvelous Nakamba then lofted a hopeful volley almost out of the ground, before Mpanzu had a great chance to open the scoring when sent through by Jordan Clark’s header but he got the ball stuck under his feet as the chance went begging.

In the second half, Burnley tried to get some momentum of their own.

Ian Maatsen burst into the home area but as he pulled the trigger Reece Burke was there to make a terrific block.

Town took off top scorer Morris for Cauley Woodrow, but it was Burnley who were beginning to enjoy the better of proceedings. Substitute Vitinho almost broke the deadlock when unmarked from a cross, only to see Lockyer throw himself in the way to clear the danger.

The replacement had another chance moments later but got his angles wrong, dragging wide of the target.

Burnley won a penalty after 78 minutes when Gabe Osho handled inside the area – the third spot-kick Luton have conceded in three games – and Lockyer was booked for his complaints.

Barnes made no mistake from the spot, with Lockyer shown a second yellow by referee Jeremy Simpson for continuing to argue his case.

Luton tried to find a way back into the game during six minutes of stoppage time but the closest they came was a pot-shot from Mpanzu from outside the area which sailed well over the crossbar.