Rochdale manager Keith Hill insists Scott Hogan will prove to be the key to any success his side have this season after the striker scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon.

Hill reluctantly had to leave Hogan out of the starting line-up with speculation over his future during the transfer window visibly getting to the 21-year-old.

But with the window now shut Hogan proved he is back to his best as three second-half strikes moved Dale up to fourth place in Sky Bet League 2.

And Hill is backing his man to lead his side's promotion charge.

"I've never rested Scott Hogan - for the last three weeks he's been all over the place," said Hill.

"It's a shame. I saw him smile for the first time last Saturday when he knew the window had closed.

"He never wanted to go anywhere, but he's had people pulling him from pillar to post trying to orchestrate a move away from this football club.

"All he's ever wanted to do this season is to play for Rochdale, score goals and be free from any pressure.

"Off the back of an unbelievable week's training he's produced three goals. Let him be. Leave him to me and his team-mates and let him be happy and he will propel us to somewhere near the success that we need this season.

"We're a very good side and if we manage to make it to the play-offs and give ourselves a chance of promotion that'll be success in itself."

Hogan opened the scoring after 66 minutes with a sharp finish from close range after a mistake from Ross Worner and he added a second goal after rounding the goalkeeper.

His third was a fantastic lobbed finish eight minutes from time, taking his tally to 15 goals this season.

Dons boss Neil Ardley admitted his side lacked ambition.

"There wasn't much in it, but after their goal we've folded," said Ardley. "Players stopped doing their jobs and that is really difficult to take.

"It's very rarely just one mistake that costs a goal and the first goal was a loose pass, a poor touch, a bad decision, the fourth player switched off and let someone run off him and the fifth player was beaten to the cross. It's a catastrophe.

"We had no shape but that's the players we had on the pitch. I tried to get the players to play to their strengths.

"We need to be better. Once they scored the first goal we were out-run, out-tempoed, out-muscled, out-everythinged. We went to pieces.

"We lost players and had to change shape because we didn't want to put round pegs in square holes.

"We had to go for the game, but that shows why we don't have the personnel to play 4-4-2."