Johnnie Jackson never doubted the goalscoring capabilities of Ali Al-Hamadi, whose impressive hat-trick proved decisive in AFC Wimbledon’s 4-1 win over Tranmere.
The Iraqi international bagged his first career treble, leading the charge as AFC Wimbledon came from behind to pick up their first home win of the Sky Bet League Two season and move into the play-off places.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, Al-Hamadi had found trouble converting his chances and his goal tally for the season sat at just one.
However, Jackson insisted that it was an inevitability that the 21-year-old would find his shooting boots for Wimbledon.
Jackson said: “I always said it was coming, but no one said it more than him.
“No one here was worried about him scoring goals because you’re seeing how well he’s playing, seeing how many chances we’re creating for him as a team, how many he’s creating for himself by his own devilment.
“We knew they’d come for him. It’s ironic how in one week you get one, and then the next week you go and get your hat-trick.
“Delight for Ali, it’ll do him the world of good.”
For Tranmere manager Nigel Adkins, the heroics of Al-Hamadi only brought frustration as his side’s wait for a point on the road this season continues.
Rovers had snatched an early lead through Connor Jennings, but after Armani Little brought AFC Wimbledon level, it all went wrong for the visitors.
Defeat leaves Tranmere in the relegation zone, where they started the day, having won only two of their first 10 games this season.
However, Adkins has nonetheless found encouragement by the start his team made to the game.
He said: “We started both halves really, really well. The first half especially.
“Our intensity, our passing, our movement, our identity, our understanding of what we wanted. For the first 20 minutes, it was spot on.
“And then goals changed the complexion of the game.”
A key moment of the game came eight minutes after the interval, when Josh Turnbull saw red after a rash challenge on Isaac Ogundere.
The challenge was right under the nose of Adkins, who understood referee Daniel Middleton’s decision to dismiss Turnbull.
“It’s a thunderous challenge going in, committed,” Adkins added.
“We want committed challenges going in, but I think in the climate of today, maybe a follow through is just enough [to be a red card].
“It’s a fraction harsh, but the referee had a decision to make and we went down to 10 men.”