Southend manager Mark Molesley praised his side’s determination following their vital 1-0 Sky Bet League Two victory against relegation rivals Barrow at Roots Hall.
On-loan Portsmouth forward Reeco Hackett-Fairchild scored the only goal of the game after just three minutes to clinch maximum points.
But the Shrimpers played out the final 38 minutes with 10 men after experienced defender Greg Halford was shown a second yellow card.
Molesley was pleased with how Southend reacted to the red card.
“I’m delighted with the win and I’m delighted with the fashion of the win too,” said Molesley.
“That defensive mentality, the work-rate and determination the boys showed was second to none.
“I thought the defensive organisation was superb after the sending off.
“We limited them to very few chances despite large spells of possession and that showed how disciplined we were in our jobs.”
The bottom-of-the-table Shrimpers are now just a point from safety and Molesley also heaped praise on debutant Hackett-Fairchild who bagged the winner on his 23rd birthday.
“It was a moment of pure quality from Reeco,” said Molesley. “But it wasn’t just the goal I was impressed with.
“I was impressed with his work-rate and his endeavour to win the ball back high up the pitch as well.
“He put in a real slog but he needed to come off with what we’re hoping is just over-tightness rather than a bad injury.”
Southend started brightly and scored after just three minutes with Hackett-Fairchild cutting in from the right flank before sending a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Barrow substitute Dior Angus headed an effort over late on but boss Michael Jolley felt his side were naive as he suffered his first defeat since taking charge just before Christmas.
“I haven’t come back into football to criticise referees but I don’t think he had a particularly great game in terms of game management and the time taken out the game,” said Jolley.
“But from our own perspective, it’s an important lesson learnt.
“We were very naive and we must learn from that quickly.
“There are excuses, we’re disappointed to lose and I’m learning about the group all the time.”