Luton rose to the top of the Sky Bet League Two standings with a 2-0 win over Barnet at Kenilworth Road in Martin Allen's first game back in charge of the Bees.
Clearly revitalised by Allen's return, an organised Barnet side kept the hosts at bay for the first half, but it took just two second-half minutes for the Hatters to edge themselves in front through Danny Hylton's header (47).
James Collins benefitted from an error from visiting goalkeeper Craig Ross 20 minutes later when he brought Luke Berry's pass into his custody and fired an angled strike through Ross' palms to make it two (67).
Barnet's top-scorer Shaquile Coulthirst - without a goal since November - struggled to make an impact up front, an indication of how much work Allen has to do if Barnet are to escape the drop.
Luton: Shea (7), Justin (7), Cuthbert (7), Sheehan (8), Potts (7), McCormack (7), Lee (7), Berry (7), Shinnie (7), Collins (7), Hylton (7)
Subs: Rea (n/a), Jervis (n/a), Stacey (n/a)
Barnet: Ross (7), Tutonda (5), Santos (5), Clough (6), Brindley (5), Sweeney (7), Blackman (5), Weston (5), Taylor (5), Akinde (6), Nicholls (5)
Subs: Akinola (6), Coulthirst (4), Akpa Akpro (n/a)
Man of the match: Alan Sheehan
Nathan Jones' men, meanwhile, move eight points clear of fourth-placed Notts County at the summit.
With a chance to overtake leaders Accrington on goal difference, Luton - without a win since February 13 - had to work hard to impose themselves on the game despite several concentration lapses falling in their favour in the first half.
The Bees conceded a succession of free-kicks on the left flank and could count themselves lucky neither Dan Potts nor James Justin managed to divert headers past Ross, who was in inspired form between the sticks, also notably pushing Olly Lee's rasping drive around the post.
Barnet's gameplan was clear - frustrate their opponents and then hit them with a sucker-punch on the counter - and they almost succeeded five minutes before the break when John Akinde beat Alan McCormack to Potts' careless pass, before driving forward and hitting a low effort inches wide.
But two minutes after the restart, the visitors' resistance ended; with their back-line asleep, Potts headed Alan Sheehan's free-kick across goal and Hylton rose to nod the ball over the line at the far post.
Barnet boss Martin Allen - who will be without the injured Mauro Vilhete for the rest of the season after he underwent surgery on an unspecified injury this week – made four changes, bringing in Charlie Clough, Richard Brindley, Andre Blackman and Jack Taylor for his first Bees game since November 2016.
Nathan Jones also made wholesale changes as James Justin, Olly Lee, Alan McCormack, Andrew Shinnie started, while Marek Stech – whose wife gave birth yesterday - made way for James Shea to make his league debut for the Hatters between the sticks.
Luton made it 2-0 20 minutes later when Collins intercepted Berry's whipped pass to the right of the 18-yard box, and smashed it across the goal and into the back of the net, through the hands of a red-faced Ross.
Ross made another sublime save to tip McCormack's stinging effort behind, before Simeon Akinola's deflected free-kick almost caught out James Shea on his Luton league debut, but the save preserved his clean sheet and also the advantage for Jones' men.
Man of the match - Alan Sheehan
With his set-piece deliveries in the first half, it was almost unbelievable that one hadn't been converted by his Luton team-mates, such was the inch-perfect placement from the Irishman.
In the second half, another searching free-kick to the far post played a crucial part in Danny Hylton's opener; a just reward for his performance in keeping a hard-fought clean sheet as he brought up his century for the Hatters.
Nathan Jones: "We needed that today because I've had to watch so many people dissect our season, dissect my position as a manager and discussing whether I'm up to it and so on. I've had to do so many interviews about the wobble - we had to answer to a few people today, and we did that in comprehensive fashion.
"Lately we've drawn a few games, but they've been tough games - Coventry away is a real difficult game. They've just come down with good players and a big budget and we've gone there and drawn. We've come through a tough period and today we've shown we are a good side. It's difficult sometimes."
Martin Allen: "I thought we gave a good account of ourselves. They're a good side with some dangerous attacking players. We restricted them to a few chances but perhaps we could have been a bit more clinical and better in possession to attack them.
"Conceding the first goal so soon after half-time was a big knock-back mentally for the players, but fair play we kept going right through to the end."
Both sides are back in action on Good Friday: Allen takes charge of a Barnet home game for the first time since November 2016 as the Bees host Crewe, while Luton travel to Essex to take on Colchester.