A devastating opening period set Oxford City Stars on their way to a 5-3 victory over Slough Jets – and top spot in the English National League South Division 2 Cup Group 2.
Knowing that nothing less than victory would do if they wanted to reach the finals weekend on March 29-30, Stars made a blistering start on their way to victory.
The visitors scored three times in 13 minutes and never looked back, despite a valiant performance from Slough.
It means Stars finish above Bristol Pitbulls by virtue of having a better head-to-head record.
Oxford opening the scoring in the fourth minute when James Pentecost fed Josh Oliver, who beat two players before crossing for Jacob Smith to tap home.
Three minutes later, Smith returned the favour, passing for Pentecost to fire a low shot through the legs of the Slough netminder.
Stars kept pushing forward and scored their third goal just three seconds from the end of a powerplay when Jeff Sykora netted from close range.
After missing several opportunities to increase their lead further, the game changed midway through the second period when Slough began to get on top.
They reduced the lead when Zoran Kosic netted and then Josh Condren’s fine solo effort at the start of the third period made it 3-2.
Alan Green settled Oxford nerves with their fourth, but Slough hit straight back with James Sanderson firing in a slapshot to make it 4-3.
But 40 seconds later, Pentecost went through to score his second of the game to seal Oxford’s victory and ensure they secured top spot.
OXFORD City Stars have been displaced as leaders of South Division 2.
Stars, who were without a league game, were knocked off top spot by Slough Jets, who beat Chelmsford 4-1.