IT was a night of firsts for Southend United as the Shrimpers brushed aside AFC Wimbledon 3-1 at Roots Hall this evening. 

The victory was the Shrimpers’ first at home this season and also saw Sol Campbell triumph for the first time since taking charge of the club.

Campbell, who had been beaten in his first four games as boss, also saw Nathan Ralph and Ethan Hamilton score their first goals for Blues before Tom Hopper sealed the Trophy victory late on.

Blues - who had been embarrassed by non-league Dover Athletic in the FA Cup on Sunday - threatened early on with Stephen McLaughlin having a well-struck 25 yard shot parried out by Dons goalkeeper Joe McDonnell before Simon Cox sent a low effort straight at the visiting custodian.

However, the Shrimpers stayed on the front foot and opened the scoring in the 25th minute, with Ralph on target.

The left-back latched onto a half cleared left-wing free-kick from McLaughlin and sent an impressive right footed volley into the bottom left hand corner of the net from 20 yards.

Moments later, on-loan Manchester United youngster Hamilton sent a scorching 30 yard strike inches over the crossbar but the Dons soon hit back with Tommy Wood sending a deflected effort inches wide of the left post.

But the visitors were not to be denied for long and they drew back level in the 35th minute when Jack Madelin’s goalbound effort was blocked by Elvis Bwomono, only for his attempted clearance to hit Wood and rebound into the back of the South Stand net.

However, Blues fought back well after being pegged back and regained the lead on the stroke of half-time when a strong challenge from Ralph enabled Mark Milligan to charge down the left hand side.

The Australian strode into the penalty area and teed up Hamilton who sent a low, right footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net from 12 yards.

After the break, the Shrimpers momentarily thought they had scored again when Emile Acquah tapped home Elvis Bwomono’s right wing cross but his close range effort was ruled out for offside.

The hosts stayed on top with Cox soon half-volleying Ralph’s left wing cross inches wide of the left post before the visitors hit back with substitute Zach Robinson sending a left footed effort just past the right upright.

However, Southend – who made five changes to their starting line-up with young defender Richard Taylor making his debut – soon replied with Cox having a well struck 25 yard shot tipped wide of the target by McDonnell.

Blues boss Campbell opted to freshen things up in the 74th minute with Brandon Goodship and Tom Hopper both entering the fray.

And, six minutes after their introduction, the duo combined to put the hosts 3-1 in front as Goodship’s right wing cross picked out Hopper who fired home from six yards to seal the win in front of 717 fans.

Dons thought they had replied late on when Wood headed home but the effort was disallowed by a delayed offside decision.