There’s no question in Rob Hall’s mind as to whether he scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 win against Leyton Orient on Saturday, despite Will Grigg’s protests.
The winger netted his first goal for MK Dons since signing on loan from West Ham, but there were questions about whether Grigg got the final touch before it went past Alex Cisak in the Orient net.
Grigg handed the ball to Hall after he netted his third of the afternoon, though Hall admitted his first was in fact a pass meant for Lewis Baker.
“The ball is definitely mine!” he said. “The video doesn’t lie! It was a pass, I was trying to get Lewis Baker in on goal. I had to put a lot of pace on the ball, but Griggy was in the way. I thought it went all the way in.
“I’m proud. It was nice to get a hat-trick today. A year ago today my friend Dylan Tombides died. It was an emotional day, and it’s all for him.”
Hall’s second strike was the pick of the bunch. After a sublime move of one-touch football spanning the entire pitch, Hall played a one-two with Grigg to rifle home an unstoppable volley.
A year ago today my friend Dylan Tombides died. It was an emotional day, and it’s all for him.Rob Hall
He said: “The second popped up nicely and I hit it on the volley. I’m pretty sure it took a deflection which made it dip. It had enough on it to beat the keeper.
“And for the third, it showed great awareness for Lewis to hear me and see me with a reverse pass. I slotted it away quite nicely.”
Relegation battling Orient threatened to take the game to Dons in the opening 20 minutes. Smothering the midfield, Dons struggled to get a foothold, but Dean Bowditch’s 22nd minute goal opened the floodgates. Hall scored two minutes later, before Grigg converted a penalty five after that. Hall’s screamer made it four by the break, before the fifth came just before the hour mark as Hall completed his hat-trick.
Jay Simpson, the only Orient player who could hold his head high on a day his team-mates capitulated under the pressure, scored a fine individual effort as a consolation before Dele Alli made it six towards the end to move Dons within a point of Preston in the final automatic promotion spot.
Hall said: “It looked like it could have been harder today until we got the first goal. But once we got the first, the second and third came quickly and settled us down. We know not every game will be like this, but we have to go again each day. We’re thoroughly happy.
“We like to send out a statement. We said at 4-0, most people would sit off. We wanted to send a statement. Everyone in the league will fear us, they’ll do anything to stop us and ruin our party. But we’re here to do a job and hopefully we’re going the right way about it.
“Preston will feel the pressure of us behind them, but we can only control what we do, and what they do is up to them. Hopefully, we’ll be the ones with a smile on our faces come May 3.”
This is Hall’s second spell at stadium:mk, having played twice for Karl Robinson’s side during a loan spell in 2011-12.
Now feeling much more at home at the club, Hall said he’s having fun playing with Robinson’s young charges in the likes of Dele Alli, Lewis Baker and ‘magic man’ Samir Carruthers.
He said: “Obviously the forwards get more headlines, but the guys at the back make it so much easier, and they can play football. It makes it so much easier for us.
“But playing with players like Dele Alli, Lewis Baker and Samir Carruthers - I call him magic man because he’s full of magic! - playing with guys like that makes it easier for wide players like me.
“It was fun to be out there. We were annoyed to lose the clean sheet, but it became harder towards the end.
“There were a lot of false positions and they gave up, we wanted more goals.
“Everyone was smiling.”