Rob Duffy scored a brilliant hat-trick as Oxford United returned to winning ways in some style in front of a record attendance of The New Lawn last night.

The in-form Welsh striker struck with a right-footed shot on 26 minutes, a header on 44, and then a toe-poked third in the last minute to take his tally to 11 in ten games.

Other goals came from substitute Yemi Odubade, with a fine solo effort, and then Chris Hargreaves in stoppage time.

The win takes United nine points clear at the top, with the manner of the performance sending Oxford's massive travelling support home very happy.

Duffy had been close to completing his hat-trick three or four times before he did so on 89 minutes after a superb attacking break from Eddie Anaclet.

Anaclet cut the ball back to him from near the bye-line, and Duffy then beat his marker with the flick of a heel before poking a shot past Forest Green's former Thame United goalkeeper Steve Williams.

This was win No 11 for Jim Smith's men - on their first ever visit to deepest Gloucestershire - and was their most comprehensive away victory for a decade.

Smith freshened up the side, bringing in Matt Day at left wingback for Rufus Brevett, who is now 37, with Hargreaves coming in for Eddie Hutchinson in the middle of the park.

There was a massive Oxford following at the New Lawn, many of them having made the picturesque short journey through the Cotswolds and over Minchinhampton Common.

Matt Robinson, who had to play at right back at St Albans in midweek, was back in his more familiar position on the left for Forest Green, and in an advanced left midfield role.

Rovers began the game at a high tempo.

Simon Clist delivered a deep high cross which Billy Turley left thinking it was going out, but the strong breeze kept the ball in and Alex Meechan, coming in on the blind side, headed across goal and just past the far post.

That was a warning to Oxford, who were under pressure again whe Clist ran strongly at their defence and it needed a foul by Barry Quinn to stop him.

Duffy was close to opening the scoring on 15 minutes. Kevin Nicholson gave the ball away, Carl Pettefer found Duffy instantly and the Welsh striker struck a fine drive which whistled just past a post.

A horribly short pass back to Turley by Barry Quinn almost landed United in dire trouble.

Allan Russell latched onto the chance, but proved too honest for the home side's good. He could easily have gone down as Turley clambered over his legs to try to get the ball, but stayed on his feet and then slammed a shot against the outside of a post with the goal beckoning.

Quinn immediately apologised to his keeper, who showed his instant acceptance by giving him a hug!

Ten seconds later, from Turley's goal kick, the visitors took the lead.

The ball was flicked on to Duffy and he took a couple of touches and then shot right-footed past keeper Williams from just inside the area.

Rovers, who were playing some tidy football, with Clist catching the eye, produced a decent attack that ended with Meechan having a shot deflected wide.

Seven minutes before half-time Forest Green equalised and Turley was partly to blame.

Day gave away a free-kick with a late challenge and when the free-kick was delivered into the box, Turley chose to punch, but didn't get any distance. It was returned low by Mark Beesley into a crowded six-yard area, from where Russell knocked the ball in.

But that man Duffy showed his eye for a goal again on 44 minutes when he stooped low to head Andy Burgess's corner into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.

Rovers put three players up front for the corner, so there was more space in the box than United were used to - and how Duffy punished them.

The U's change to 4-4-2 for the second half, with Eddie Anaclet pushed up to right midfield, which prevented Nicholson getting in the kinds of dangerous crosses he had in the first 45 minutes.

And early in the half, Anaclet cut in from the right and hit a low left-footed shot which skidded off the surface, but was comfortably saved.

With Oxford on top, Hargreaves ran onto a great pass by Burgess, beat a defender and drove into the side-netting, though many U's fans, with the angle they had, thought the ball had gone in.

Duffy, who was booked for a push on Meechan near the touchline, continued to win a lot of headers inside the box.

He had what would have been a hat-trick goal ruled out for offside, and planted two other headers over the bar.

Forest Green could count themselves very unlucky not to equalise in the 71st minute when Russell turned well and then saw his shot hit both posts, rolling along the goalline and striking the left post having hit the inside of the right, before Day cleared.

Odubade replaced Steve Basham and twice went close to making it 3-1 before ending a 30-yard run by drilling a shot inside the near post.

Duffy then completed his treble with Anaclet's big assist, and deep into stoppage time Hargreaves drove past a helpless Williams after Pettefer's shot had been blocked.