MATT Lawday’s hat-trick kept Oxford City Stars firmly on track in the South Division 2 title race.

The treble helped set up a 6-2 victory against Bracknell Hornets at Oxpens – their seventh win on the spin.

With their rivals also victorious, it kept Kenny Redmond’s side in contention with up to three games in hand.

Dax Hedges added a brace before Joshua Florey wrapped up the two points late on.

Lawday got the plaudits, but was keen to spread the praise around, particularly to netminder John Dibble, who suffered a knee injury making a double save in the last few seconds.

Lawday said: “It’s nice to score a hat-trick, but the main thing is we won and got through another big test.

“It was a real team effort and everyone played their part all the way through the squad.

“Dibs was immense for us in goal and some of the saves he made were first class.”

Dibble is due to have a scan on the knee before Saturday’s visit to Guildford and was the only sour note on an otherwise productive evening.

It did not begin well, though, Bracknell striking the first blow with the opening goal in the fifth minute.

Former Stars player Ben Ealey-

Newman made the breakthrough, but the hosts quickly asserted their dominance.

Hedges equalised on a powerplay, before Mike Whillock and Michal Oravec combined for Lawday to put Stars in front before the end of the first period.

The forward struck twice more in less than five minutes during the second to put Stars 4-1 ahead.

Hedges stretched the lead, but Connor Hutchison pulled a goal back heading into the final 20 minutes.

Any hopes Hornets had of an unlikely comeback were put to bed by Oliver’s finish in the final two minutes.

Dibble’s bravery at the death preserved the four-goal advantage, but Stars now face a nervous wait to see if he can face Guildford.