BY DANIEL MARSH
Glyn Hodges felt his side’s impressive start was key to AFC Wimbledon recording their third straight victory in a week at the expense of Southend United.
The Dons raced into a two-goal lead at Roots Hall courtesy of a double in the first 11 minutes from Finnish striker Marcus Forss. The hosts replied through Tim Dieng, before second-half goals from Forss – completing his hat-trick – and Ryan Delaney sealed a stunning win.
“The key is the quick start,” said Hodges, the Dons’ caretaker manager.
“The last three games we’ve had a quick start and then also backed it up. We went 2-0 up and unfortunately didn’t see the first half through, caused ourselves a problem and conceded one. I think with the position we’re in we got a bit nervous, it wasn’t until half-time that we could calm things down, relax, shore things up and second half we went about it really well.
“[In the] second half, I just said relax and play it. When you get that next goal, that gives us a platform, we’ve always been one goal shy or one goal up. We were 3-0 up against Rochdale then back to 3-2, it just adds to the nerves. Now we’ve enjoyed having that little cushion – that’s a good thing.”
Hodges was full of praise for loanee striker Forss, whose hat-trick proved to be the catalyst for Wimbledon’s triumph.
The on-loan Brentford man netted two instinctive goals in the first half, before an emphatic penalty to effectively kill the game off early in the second half – making it a stunning seven league goals in just six league games.
However, had the circumstances been different, Forss may not have even been playing – he had originally been called up by Finland U21s for international duty before committing to play for the Dons this weekend.
“He just said to me: ‘Do you want me to stay?” explained Hodges after the match.
“I said: “Yeah, I’d love you to stay – but sometimes you’ve got no choice”. We had Nathan Trott with England last window, we asked him to stay and they said no. He’s gone to Finland, asked if he can stay and they’ve said yes. Obviously, they see the value in him playing at this level – he’s scored a hat-trick, so we’d like to thank the Finnish FA and obviously Marcus for even wanting to stay and wanting to play and the performance he’s put in today.
“He scores all types of goals, that’s the thing. Every goal he has got is different. You see him every day in training, it’s left foot, right foot, no backlift. You give him a chance and you always think he’s gonna at least hit the target – today they’ve gone in.”
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD