MARCELLO Trotta scored a festive hat-trick as Wycombe Wanderers climbed out of the relegation zone.
On-loan Fulham striker Trotta made it six goals in four games with a first-half double and late finish while goalkeeper Nikki Bull saved a second-half penalty to ensure Wycombe edged relegation rivals Exeter.
It was a day of festive drama with results elsewhere in League One seeing Gary Waddock's leapfrrogging Scunthorpe and Yeovil into 20 th place.
Trotta only extended his one-month loan deal at Adams Park until mid-January last week and the news was greeted by Wanderers fans as the best Christmas present they could hope to receive.
And the 19-year-old rewarded them with a Boxing Day striking master-class to see him continue his incredible scoring streak with just 30 seconds on the clock when he met an Anthony McNamee cross and rifled the ball past Artur Krysiak.
Trotta ran straight towards his family in the stands who had flown over from his homeland to watch him play in England for the first time.
Wycombe have undoubtedly solved their goalscoring crisis in recent weeks but at the back they remain wobbly and unconvincing.
And their long wait for a clean sheet stretched to 15 games when Grecians centre-back Danny Coles rose unmarked to meet a Chris Hackett corner and power a header into the back of the net on 23 minutes.
The schoolboy defending from the home side continued as Guillem Bauza had a shot saved Bull after pouncing on a loose ball in midfield and being allowed to waltz towards goal.
But Trotta bailed his temporary team out yet again when he took his tally to five goals in four games.
The silky Italian darted towards the byline and somehow managed to rifle in a shot from an impossible angle on 40 minutes.
In truth, Exeter stopper Krysiak will be disappointed to be beaten at his near post but the Adams Park faithful were just grateful to be back in pole position for the crucial three points at the interval.
But they were even more thankful for Bull five minutes after the restart as the second-half exploded into life with some early drama.
The Blues stopper was on the end of a terrible decision when the referee missed his vital touch and ruled he had pulled down Exeter striker Jake Taylor in the box and pointed to the spot.
But justice was done when the 30-year-old goalkeeper saved Bauza's tame spot-kick and threw himself at the striker's feet to deny him a tap in from the rebound.
The rest of the half failed to live up to its early billing with Waddock throwing on experienced heads in Martin Rowlands and Gareth Ainsworth as they switched to a 4-5-1 formation to see the game out.
And Trotta made sure there was no nervy finale for Wanderers when he blasted in his third with two minutes to play.
WANDERERS: Bull, McCoy, Winfield, Johnson, Foster, Grant (Rowlands 71), Bloomfield, Lewis, McNamee (Ainsworth 85), Trotta (Harris 90), Beavon.
Subs (not used): Strevens, Basey.
Booked: Lewis (3 mins), McCoy (39 mins), Winfield (60 mins), Bloomfield (79 mins), Trotta (89 mins).
EXETER: Krysiak, Tully (Duffy 76), Golbourne, Coles, Archibald-Henville, Hackett (Nardiello 66), Noble, Sercombe, Dunne, Taylor, Bauza.
Subs (not used): Pidgeley, O'Flynn, Bennett.
Booked: Coles (25 mins).