Mitch Pinnock was on target for the third match in succession to help AFC Wimbledon to a first league victory since 29 September.
It had been a long time coming with the last league win against Oxford feeling like a lifetime ago, but the Dons were full value for the 2-1 victory.
It rewarded an impressive fightback from the Dons after Southend had taken the lead in just the eighth minute and it was a real credit to Interim Manager Simon Bassey who has steered the ship at a difficult time for the club.
Simon selected an unchanged starting line-up for this match after the narrow defeat at Doncaster last time out. There was only one change to the squad with Tennai Watson named on the substitutes’ bench instead of Toby Sibbick.
There was an early warning for Wimbledon when Theo Robinson managed to get in behind, but Joe McDonnell reacted well to save at his near post. However, there was no reprieve for the Dons in the eighth minute with Southend breaking the deadlock. It came after Wimbledon had a great chance to open the scoring at the other end with Kwesi Appiah holding the ball up well and picking out Mitch Pinnock on the edge of the area, but he blazed over with only the keeper to beat. Just seconds later and it was 1-0 to Southend with the ball quickly worked to Stephen Hendrie on the left and his cross was deflected in by Liam Trotter for an own goal.
Wimbledon responded well to the early setback with promising approach play, but yet again the end product was lacking. A slick Dons move ended with Pinnock and Appiah combining to set-up the overlapping Deji Oshilaja, but he shot over the crossbar from an acute angle. Wimbledon had plenty of possession after falling behind, but Southend defended resolutely. The Dons also attempted to utilise long throws from Pinnock, a more than useful attacking weapon, but Southend held firm at the back. Simon Bassey was forced into a change in the 43rd minute. With Appiah injured, Joe Pigott was introduced and he received a warm reception from Southend supporters after scoring a vital goal for the Shrimpers in the play-off final at Wembley.
Despite having plenty of the first 45 minutes, it looked like Wimbledon would go in 1-0 down at the break, but the equaliser arrived in injury-time. Pinnock sent over a superb cross from the left and it was diverted into the back of the net by Southend’s Stephen Hendrie. No one in blue and yellow cared about the manner of the goal scored as what really mattered was that the Dons were level at a vital time in this match.
Following a slow start to the second-half, it really came to life just before the hour. Southend pressed for a second goal and it needed Joe McDonnell to grasp a shot from Robinson at the second attempt. However, Wimbledon, with the fans making plenty of noise, started to show encouraging signs of conjuring up a winner. Pinnock was causing plenty of problems down the right and he sent over an excellent delivery from the right that was begging to be finished off, but no one was able to get on the end of it. Anthony Wordsworth was also proving to be a useful attacking weapon and he produced a good run that ended with a shot over the crossbar.
With 20 minutes to go, Wimbledon were celebrating the goal that was deserved on the balance of play since Southend’s opening goal. Pinnock, who enjoyed such an impressive second-half, turned inside and curled in a delightful cross that missed everyone, but this time it found the far corner of the net. Whether he meant it or not, it was a goal to savour at such an important time for Wimbledon. You could sense the relief among the home support as they watched the Dons close in on a much-needed victory.
There was no sign of Wimbledon sitting on the slender lead and the Dons almost sealed victory 13 minutes from time. Following a goalmouth scramble, Joe Pigott cracked against a post from close-range and Southend just managed to clear the ball. In a finale to this game when Southend never looked like striking back, Pigott had another effort cleared off the line. However, two was enough on the day to earn a vital three points for the Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilaja, Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff, Kwesi Appiah (Joe Pigott), Mitch Pinnock (Andy Barcham), Liam Trotter, Tom Soares, Rod McDonald, Anthony Wordsworth (Anthony Hartigan).
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.