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Wednesday 24 Apr 2019
First professional hat-trick for Oxford United winger Gavin Whyte

Winger Gavin Whyte ended his goal drought in sensational fashion when he bagged the first hat-trick of his professional career as ten-man Oxford United came from behind to beat Shrewsbury Town 3-2 on Easter Monday. 

The ex-Crusaders player, who had not hit the target since just before Christmas, admitted his first treble for the club was a memorable moment in his career. 

“This was a very special day,” declared the 23-year-old, “getting a hat-trick in front of that support. It’s one I’ll never forget.

“The fans were brilliant, they come out in their numbers every week and I just want to say fair play to them.”

After United were reduced to ten men following Ahmed Kashi red card for a rash tackle ten minutes before the break, Oxford boss Karl Robinson decided to use Whyte’s pace and pushed him up front for the second-half. 

“The gaffer said get on the slowest man which was the middle man,” explained Whyte, “so I knew if the ball broke I’d beat him in a race.

“For the third goal my last touch was a bit dodgy but I still knew I was going to get there before him - I actually toe-poked it.”

Another ex-Irish League star Paul Smyth, was also on the scoresheet in League One when he found the net in Accrington Stanley’s 2-1 victory at Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night. 

The former Linfield player provided an assist for Sean McConville’s opener and then sealed the victory with his third goal for the club a minute before the break. 

On a less positive note striker Liam Boyce was stretchered off in Burton Albion’s 3-2 defeat at Southend United with a suspected ankle injury. 

Brewers’ manager Nigel Clough said: “Liam had an X-ray yesterday and that doesn’t show anything glaringly obvious which is a good sign.

“He will have an MRI scan today but we are keeping our fingers crossed there is nothing too serious there. 

“Because he has had a serious injury before then everybody gets worried and the right thing to do is put the player on a stretcher and take as many precautions as you can. 

“But he felt better after the game and better again yesterday. I think he will be out for the rest of the season, but we don’t want anything long term obviously.”

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the quickest ever goal in the Premier League history last night after just 7.69 seconds when he closed down a Craig Cathcart’s pass to lob over the keeper to put the Saints one up at Watford. 

Cathcart was substituted at half-time with the Hornets going on to earn a point thanks to a 90thminute goal from Andre Gray. 

Meanwhile, in the Championship, Jamal Lewis and Michael McGovern are on the brink of promotion to the Premier League despite being held to a 2-2 draw at Stoke City.

The Canaries need just a point from their final two games to secure automatic promotion while Ollie Norwood’s Sheffield United are currently in second spot thanks to an emphatic 3-0 success at Hull City.

Elsewhere, Leeds United’s promotion hopes took a further blow after they suffered a second successive defeat following a 2-0 loss at Brentford. Stuart Dallas came on as a 12th minute substitute against his former club to get some much needed game time.

Finally in the Championship in Scotland, Northern Ireland under-21 international Shea Gordon scored his third goal of the season as Partick Thistle eased their relegation worries with a 2-1 success at Ayr United.