MK Dons manager Russell Martin believes Joe Mason showed what he can do when fully fit after the midfielder’s first-half hat-trick inspired his side to a 3-1 victory over Fleetwood.
Mason, who has had his problems with injuries, had only scored once before this season, but he was clinical in striking the Dons’ first hat-trick since September 2016.
Martin said: “All of them came from intensity, from us being together in pressing high and showing the will to show our quality in the final third.
“I spoke a few weeks ago about how much quality Joe has and the belief I have in him and it’s about getting his body 100 per cent, which we haven’t been able to do enough.
“He’s getting there – he’s had some minutes recently that have really helped him – and tonight he was outstanding.
“His general link-up play and his finishes – I’m not sure many people are able to do that on their weaker foot.
“I think it was the second one where he snapped it in with a side-foot into the top corner.
“That was outstanding, so we need more of that from Joe, we need to keep getting him on the pitch more and he showed real intensity to press tonight as well.”
MK Dons led after just four minutes when Ethan Laird laid the ball across for Mason, who had plenty of time to pick his place into the bottom corner.
Mason doubled his tally after being teed up by Scott Fraser and he completed a remarkable treble by pouncing on a poor error by Charlie Mulgrew and producing a calm finish.
Fleetwood were much improved after half-time, but it took them until the 83rd minute to finally score, as Sam Finley blasted in a terrific strike from just outside the area.
Fleetwood interim boss Simon Wiles bemoaned his side’s poor start.
He said: “We didn’t give ourselves the best opportunity to win the game, with the start that we had.
“I’m obviously very disappointed with the individual errors in the first half, but I spoke with them at half-time and told them that we needed a positive response and we got that and we created a lot of really good opportunities in the second half.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t convert them and that’s coming down to the training ground now and making sure we continue to work hard in that final third and start to be more ruthless in front of goal.
“The first half was really frustrating because the lads had prepared really well – obviously we had some key moments that we could have done better with.
“Unfortunately, we got into it late, but we still had three or four really good chances to get ourselves right back into the game.”
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