All five goals at Meadow Lane arrived in a thrilling second half that saw Hughes break the deadlock with three minutes to spare.
County replaced Tranmere at the top of the table after Rovers were held to a goalless draw by Crewe.
Third-placed Yeovil also lost ground after losing 1-0 at home to Bournemouth with Richard Hughes firing the visitors to their first away victory of 2012.
A late Neill Collins header rescued nine-man Sheffield United an unexpected point in their 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe.
United had Michael Doyle sent off for elbowing Mike Grella early on and Ryan Flynn was also dismissed after debutant Leon Clarke had headed Scunthorpe in front.
Farid El Alagui netted a late winner for Brentford as they prevailed 1-0 over Colchester in a game of wasted chances.
El Alagui finally ended the stalemate with two minutes to go, powering home a close-range header from Harry Forrester's cross.
Dominant Preston are unbeaten in their last five league and cup games after cruising to a 2-1 victory at Bury.
Akpo Sodje stooped to head home Scott Laird's corner and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff nodded in a second for North End, before Joe Skarz scored a stoppage time consolation.
Dean Holden's first-half strike secured Walsall a 1-0 triumph over MK Dons.
Lee Cook struck to secure Leyton Orient's first points of the season in a 1-0 victory at Swindon.
Leon McSweeney swung in a cross and former QPR winger Cook was on hand to sweep the ball in at the near post after an hour.