Oxford City produced the ideal response to Saturday's FA Cup disappointment as a Matt Paterson hat-trick, including a poetic added time goal, handed them a commanding 3-1 victory over high-flying Truro City.
The Hoops' midfield were arguably the real stars of the show as Rob Sinclair and Zac McEachran combined to set up two of the three goals, capping an exceptional team performance.
Mark Jones made one forced change from the side which acquitted themselves so well in the cup, an injury for Freddie Grant giving Reece Fleet an opportunity to start for the first time since his own spell on the sidelines, and setting up in the 5-4-1 formation they ended Saturday's game with. Jack Stevens lined up in goal behind centre halves Joe Oastler, Cristian Navarro and Mo Fofana. The change in defensive shape saw Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain play in a slightly more advanced wing-back role, Dave Pearce dropping back to match him on the left. Godfrey Poku, Reece Fleet, Zac McEachran and Rob Sinclair all took up roles in midfield to support striker Matt Paterson.
The Hoops got off to an exceptionally bright start, Paterson's square ball to McEachran seemingly set to give the midfielder an easy finish but for the intervention of a defender. McEachran was involved once again in the 7th minute, freeing Reece Fleet down the right only for Paterson to put his cross wide of the far post.
With Truro offering next to nothing going forwards, the Hoops were free to continue pressing. Just before the quarter hour mark, a long ball into the path of Sinclair saw an early cross find the feet of Paterson whose attempted finish through the legs of Tom McHale was well read by the 'keeper.
Four minutes later, Paterson's persistence was rewarded with the first of his goals. Exceptional footwork from McEachran saw the young midfielder weave his way through three players, finding Oxlade-Chamberlain whose low cross was spilled into the path of Paterson for the striker to fire home.
City were not content with a one goal lead and went on the prowl for a second. Sinclair nearly provided just that, carrying the ball from his own half to the edge of the box where his effort was well blocked at close range. McEachran had a little more luck from a similar position, although McHale made a routine save down to his right.
A quieter period ensues with Truro beginning to assert themselves in possession, although without creating any chances of note. City, meanwhile, were far more incisive and looked like making the most of a break in the 42nd minute as McEachran yet again raced through the middle. Seeing his initial shot blocked, the midfielder was able to lay the ball back to Fleet whose own effort suffered a similar fate.
With a minute of the half remaining, the White Tigers produced their first shot in anger: Andrew Neal blazing over from just inside the City box.
Oxford City started the second half in very much the same way as the first: on the front foot. McHale was tested once more in the 52nd minute as Reece Fleet intercepted a poor clearance on the half way line, opting not to attempt a long-range finish but instead shooting from the edge of the area and forcing a good save as his shot swerved viciously. The resulting corner caused problems for the visiting defence: Oastler's thundering effort on goal eventually deflected behind.
Back at the other end, Truro began to show a level of threat more consistent with a side chasing promotion. Poku's attempt to see a long ball out for a goal kick was thwarted, resulting in a free crossing opportunity which Navarro did exceptionally well to cut out with a superb block.
Paterson added his second just after the hour mark. Another effective attack through the middle allowed McEachran to feed a delightful ball into the striker's path which was expertly lifted over the onrushing 'keeper.
The visitors' response was immediate, Aaron Lamont finding time and space inside the box to fire past Stevens before City's celebrations had even ended,
There was, however, no letup in the action for either set of supporters. Paterson raced onto another expertly weighted ball through the channel and, while his initial effort was saved, Sinclair was on hand to hook an effort goalwards which crashed off of the bar.
City's only change of the game arrived in the 78th minute, Eddie Jones replacing Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Hoops continued looking to make the game safe and looked to have done so when a poor Truro free kick was cleared into the path of Pearce. Holding off his marker, the winger was able to pick out McEachran who appeared to be taken down inside the area but, with no penalty forthcoming, the loose ball was eventually cleared.
With three minutes of added time to be played, City were able to kill off the game at the death. Stevens' goal kick saw Sinclair get his foot on the ball, making the most of the gaps which had appeared in the defence to find McEachran who in turn squared to Paterson at the far post for a routine finish.
With no other games having been played this evening, victory sees The Hoops rise to 17th: three points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand.
Oxford City: Stevens, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Jones 78), Pearce, Poku (c), Navarro, Oastler, McEachran, Fofana, Paterson, Sinclair, Fleet.
Unused: Forde, Hirst, Tutton, Godwin-Malife.
Updated 23:01 - 2 Jan 2018 by Oxford City FC