A Theo Robinson hat-trick helped Southend to a second straight 4-0 home win as they brushed aside a poor MK Dons side at Roots Hall.
Robinson opened the scoring midway through the first-half after Dru Yearwood’s curling effort was parried into the path of the striker who had the easy task of scoring into an empty net with the rebound.
His second came minutes later when the striker was found inside the penalty area by Michael Timlin before looping a superb strike over the despairing dive of Wieger Sietsma to make it 2-0 at the break.
Southend made the points safe midway through the second-half when Stephen McLaughlin flicked on a Michael Kightly free-kick before Robinson sealed the match-ball with a tap-in.
Dan Micciche’s side never looked like threatening Blues as they recorded a fourth straight defeat and now look destined the drop with just three games remaining.
The win for Southend put to bed memories of back-to-back defeats on the road for Chris Powell’s Blues who responded with a second straight 4-0 win at home.
Following those defeats to Oxford and Blackburn, Powell warned his Southend side that they weren’t out of relegation trouble themselves, despite being on 53 points ahead of the visit of MK Dons.
Powell wanted to see a reaction from his side and he made four changes from the team that lost to Oxford, two of which were enforced with Anton Ferdinand and Elvis Bwomono replacing Ben Coker and Michael Turner who were out with thigh injuries.
The other two changes saw Marc-Antoine Fortune lead the line alongside Theo Robinson who was making his first start since scoring in the Easter Monday game against Gillingham.
Back in February, the then out-of-favour Robinson played against a Dons’ u23 side at Roots Hall and scored four goals in a 5-0 win and after an uneventful opening 20 minutes at Roots Hall, he opened the scoring for Blues in the scorching April sunshine.
Dru Yearwood’s effort from outside the area was well saved by Dons ‘keeper Wieger Sietsma but by the time the German had looked up to see where the ball had gone, Robinson was on hand to score into an empty net with the rebound.
MK Dons responded well to going behind and went close to equalising almost immediately after Robinson’s opener when Chuks Aneke got goal side only to see his effort blocked wide for a corner.
Southend though would put their visitors further in the mire after half an hour as Robinson scored a delightful second for Blues. Michael Timlin teed up the striker inside the area before Robinson curled the ball over Sietsma for his third goal in two starts for Blues.
It wasn’t even half-time yet and Dons were already staring at a fourth straight defeat and they were unable to reduce the deficit before the interval with Aneke poking wide before Tavernier’s shot through the crowd was just off target.
And it could have gotten even better for Powell’s Blues before the half-time whistle blew if it wasn’t for a double save from Sietsma, first denying Fortune before the Frenchman teed by Stephen McLaughlin who saw his strike tipped over the crossbar.
It wasn’t long into the second-half however before Southend did grab their third goal of the game after Elvis Bwomono was clipped just outside the penalty area. The resulting free-kick was whipped in by Michael Kightly and flicked into the net by the head of McLaughlin to make it 3-0.
The visitors never looked likely to threaten any sort of a comeback and Southend’s perfect afternoon was rounded off by Robinson sealing his hat-trick with the simplest of finishes late on after Harry Kyprianou’s header across goal left Robinson to tap in from close range.
The striker was given a standing ovation as he left the field shortly after claiming the match-ball and the Dons’ afternoon was summed up late on when Mark Oxley was finally called into action in injury time, preventing Aneke and Kieran Agard with a superb double save.
The three points for Blues see them all but secure their safety in League One with Southend eight points clear of the drop with three games remaining, starting with a midweek trip to Oldham.
MK Dons, on the other hand, suffered a fourth straight defeat which leaves them staring down the barrel of relegation to League Two as they ended the afternoon six points from safety.
Blues XI: Oxley, Ferdinand (C)(Kyprianou 70’), Kightly (Harrison 70’), Timlin, Fortune, McLaughlin, Yearwood, Demetriou, Robinson (McGlashan 80’), Bwomono, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Wordsworth, Cox, Ladapo
MK Dons XI: Sietsma, Williams, Lewington (C), Wootton, Upson (Agard 65’), Cisse, Aneke, Ward, Tavernier (Muirhead 46’), Brittain, Ugbo (Thomas-Asante 75’). Subs Not Used: Jones, Reo-Coker, Golbourne, Ebanks-Landell
Referee: Gavin Ward
Assistants: George Warren & Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official: Daniel Cook
Southend United: Theo Robinson 23’, 31’, 76’, Stephen McLaughlin 63’
MK Dons: None
Southend United: Dru Yearwood 78’, Michael Timlin 79’
MK Dons: Marcus Tavernier 28’, Chuks Aneke 30’, Elliott Ward 88’