York City boss Billy McEwan expressed his delight at top scorer Clayton Donaldson's return to the goal trail with a hat-trick during last night's 5-0 thrashing of Cambridge United.

McEwan was also gushing with superlatives for his team's performance during a crushing Conference away conquest.

Donaldson joined on-loan Chesterfield defender Janos Kovacs and in-form striking partner Craig Farrell on the scoresheet, ending a seven-match wait for his first goal since a 5-0 home victory over Crawley on January 6.

The treble took Donaldson's tally to 23 goals for the season and McEwan said afterwards: "He's been through a barren spell like a lot of strikers do.

"I remember the great Ian Rush suffering from one but that did not stop him working hard.

"The boy has been coming back to form in the last couple of games and I'm delighted for him and the team."

McEwan was also hoping that the link between Donaldson's dip in form and his pre-contract agreement in which he will sign for Scottish Premier League outfit Hibernian in the summer can now be consigned to history, adding: "That's football - you don't know what's around the corner.

"It's an experience and part of his development that he has got to learn from to move on to the next game."

But McEwan was quick to share the plaudits around for his team's impressive victory.

He added: "The build-up play was superb; the combination play excellent; and the finishing was different class.

"Tom Evans was just a night-watchman and a sweeper-'keeper. We were scintillating at times and a real handful.

"Hopefully that might put a few on the gate at home to St Albans on Saturday. It would be great for the home supporters to turn out and get behind their team."

The City manager admitted his players were in dreamland' on first seeing the Abbey Stadium pitch which was in stark contrast to the heavy KitKat Crescent playing surface.

He was also pleased that last night's triumph had significantly boosted the Minstermen's goal difference.

Only top two Dagenham (plus 40) and Oxford (plus 25) can now better City's total of plus 18, which is five goals superior to the division's next best tally of Exeter and Stevenage, both on plus 13.

City's play-off rivals Morecambe, Oxford and Gravesend all lost last night, although Stevenage won and McEwan said: "We have got players who can hurt the oppposition and we said at half-time that goal difference is important, so if there were a situation to get more goals then we'd ask them to take them as long as we did not leave ourselves open at the back. They did just that."

But the Minstermen's victory did come at some cost with Darren Craddock having to be replaced in the first half after suffering shoulder and facial injuries.

Captain Manny Panther was also taken off after the Minstermen's third goal as a precaution as he carried an injury going in to the game.

Midfielder Steve Bowey, meanwhile, was rested for the match with a hamstring niggle while centreback David McGurk played through discomfort from a knock picked up at Aldershot on Saturday.

McEwan was pleased, however, with the performances of Ross Greenwood and Anthony Lloyd as replacements for the crocked Craddock and Panther.

He said: "I feel for Ross Greenwood. He's not been given many chances this season because of the way we have been playing but he is a young player who I have a lot of time for.

"He has a brilliant attitude and the same applies to Anthony Lloyd."