Marcus Forss cracked home a stunning hat-trick to help AFC Wimbledon to a first away victory of the season.
The on-loan Brentford forward struck a superb treble in a 4-1 win at Southend, Ryan Delaney netting the other goal. The result lifted Wimbledon out of the relegation zone and our supporters sung their hearts out to salute a fifth victory at Southend since we returned to the league. A total of 666 travelling Dons made the trip and it was a proud day to be a Wimbledon supporter. Forss was simply unstoppable, his decision to stay with us rather than go away on international duty with Finland Under-21s certainly vindicated.
Glyn Hodges made just one change from the side that started our last league match versus Rochdale. Ryan Delaney, who was ineligible for that game against his parent club, returned to the starting line-up with Will Nightingale ruled out due to injury. The Dons came into this match seeking a third successive win after victories against Rochdale and Leyton Orient.
Wimbledon started this match full of confidence and it didn’t take long to make the breakthrough, thanks to another clinical strike from Marcus Forss. The 20-year-old forward, who decided to stay here rather than go away on international duty for Finland Under-21s, pounced after a good pass from the right by Scott Wagstaff and his shot just had enough on it to beat Southend keeper Mark Oxley. Joe Pigott had already had a shot deflected just wide before that and the same player had a chance to make it 2-0, but his header was straight into the arms of Oxley.
Following such a great start by Wimbledon, it was no surprise when the advantage was doubled in the 11th minute. Max Sanders found space in the box and had his shot blocked, before Terell Thomas was denied by the keeper, but there was no stopping Forss with the follow-up as he cracked home emphatically. At this stage, Wimbledon were cruising with Sanders and Anthony Wordsworth getting on the ball in midfield and Wagstaff finding plenty of space on the right-hand side. However, the game was turned on its head within two minutes as Southend halved the deficit. A simple move down the Southend left caught out Wimbledon and a cross from Nahtan Ralph was headed home by Tim Dieng.
Southend wasted no time pressing for the equaliser after getting a goal back, but Wimbledon still looked dangerous on the attack. A fine Dons move ended with Wagstaff picking out Mitch Pinnock with a lovely cross, but his volley was comfortably over the crossbar. It was during the spell around the half hour mark that Wimbledon had to hold firm and ride out the Southend pressure. Stephen Cox headed wide of the target, before Stephen McLaughlin tried his luck with a shot that Nathan Trott tipped wide of his near post. The hosts put crosses into the box that pinged around the box, but Wimbledon’s defence stayed resilient to prevent any clear-cut chances.
Though Southend had come into it in the first-half, it was a deserved lead for Wimbledon and this was a great chance now to earn a first away win of the season. That welcome scenario moved a step closer when the referee awarded Wimbledon a penalty in the 52nd minute. Pinnock swung in a corner that resulted in Ryan Delaney being fouled in the box and that offered Forss a chance to bag his hat-trick. What followed was a simply stunning spot-kick as he cracked the ball into the top corner, leaving Oxley with absolutely no chance.
This time after Wimbledon earned a two-goal lead, there was little response from the hosts, who looked ready to accept their fate. For long spells of the second-half, you could only hear the travelling Dons singing their full repertoire of songs with ‘Show me the way to Plough Lane’ given a vociferous rendition or two. Our supporters behind the goal had further cause for celebration when a fourth goal arrived in style in the 72nd minute. Ryan Delaney soared high to power home a superb header after getting on the end of a corner and that effectively sealed victory for Wimbledon. Forss was brought off to a standing ovation from our supporters when he was replaced by Kwesi Appiah in the 78th minute – and deservedly so after his stunning hat-trick. It all added up to another memorable away day for Wimbledon at Southend and it rounded off a superb week for The Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Mitch Pinnock (Shane McLoughlin), Marcus Forss (Kwesi Appiah), Ryan Delaney, Max Sanders, Paul Kalambayi, Paul Osew, Joe Pigott, Anthony Wordsworth (Anthony Hartigan).
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.