Watch: Gavin Whyte nets first hat-trick for Oxford United but manager plans talks over Northern Ireland involvement
Gavin Whyte will be toast of Oxford tonight after netting his first hat-trick in professional football.
The former Crusaders winger almost doubled his tally of League One goals in one prolific afternoon at Shrewsbury Town, sealing a dramatic 3-2 win for his side.
He had opened the scoring just six minutes into the game but Ollie Norburn soon levelled for the hosts and Greg Docherty's goal saw United go in trailing at the break. To make matters worse, United's Ahmed Kashi had been issued with a red card shortly before Docherty's goal, leaving an uphill task for the visiting side.
However, Whyte hauled his side's 10 men back into the game, netting the equaliser on 72.
He went one better and bagged his all-important hat-trick clincher and winning goal six minutes later.
He raced onto former Liverpool player Cameron Brannagan's through-ball, used his pace to get through on goal and provided the top drawer finish to see Oxford move up to 11th in the table.
The winning goal sparked wild scenes behind the goal, Whyte even booked for his over-zealous celebrations with the travelling support.
WHAT A GOAL! And what a way to complete Gavin WHYTE's first hat-trick in professional football as he races on to Brannagan's through ball, outpacing two defenders before blasting past Mitchell to spark wild scenes in the away end. #Shrews 2-3 #OUFC— Oxford United FC (@OUFCOfficial) April 22, 2019
Whyte has now scored nine goals since he joined United from Crusaders last summer, the first six all coming before Christmas.
Without a goal since then until Monday afternoon, it's fair to say the famine ended with a feast.
Last week, Oxford boss Karl Robinson claimed that Whyte was suffering from 'chronic fatigue' and said he intends to speak with the Northern Ireland coaching set-up over the player's involvement in the June internationals against Estonia and Belarus.
"We need to be having these conversations, because how can a player suffering from chronic fatigue injuries be asked to go again in the summer?" he said.
"We can only really rest him if he’s going to be rested at both ends of this. He loves playing, but he’s shutting down."
Whyte was left out of the squad for Saturday's win over Charlton.
He was named Player of the Year at the Northern Ireland Football Awards last summer and was soon snapped up by Oxford.
The 23-year-old has since earned four caps for Northern Ireland, scoring with his first touch after coming off the bench to make his debut against Israel in September.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson admitted that it was the level of Whyte's performances that helped to convince his club to bring in another Irish League star in January.
The early signs are that it's two successes from two as former Glenavon star Mark Sykes joined Whyte in the line-up at Shrewsbury, forming one half of a two-man central midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation to make his eighth League One start for the U's.
Belfast Telegraph Digital