Hayden Mullins said it was a “fantastic feeling” after leading Colchester to a crucial 2-0 derby win over fellow strugglers Southend.
The U’s took a huge step towards League Two safety and pushed their rivals closer to relegation in the process with the win, which takes them nine points clear of the bottom two.
Michael Folivi gave Colchester a 30th-minute lead when he scored from close range, after keeper Mark Oxley had spilled Harry Pell’s low 25-yard effort.
And the U’s doubled their lead seven minutes later through Pell, who smashed in from around 14 yards after Noah Chilvers’ corner had only been partially cleared.
Colchester interim boss Mullins said: “It’s a fantastic feeling and a momentum that we want to keep going.
“It’s a really good atmosphere at the moment, from where we have been.
“There have been times when you leave this stadium this season really flat and down and it’s horrible and we’ve had some bad results and we’ve been on a really bad run.
“It’s great to go in there and see them all with a smile on their face – it’s a brilliant atmosphere and it’s one where now we’re coming off the back of two wins and a clean sheet in this one.
“It’s such a big thing, to lose your league status.
“It’s something we tried to keep away from the boys but also make them aware.
“It would have been so much better had the fans been here but to beat our local rivals and almost be safe is a pretty good feeling.”
Southend, for whom Jason Demetriou was shown a red card in the 69th minute for a vicious challenge on Pell, are now eight points from safety, with three games remaining.
Southend boss Phil Brown said: “Mark Oxley has kept two clean sheets in the last two games and he pulled off a couple of great saves, to keep those clean sheets.
“We don’t have enough spirit and we don’t have enough nous or heart or drive or determination in front of Mark Oxley to bail him out.
“He keeps clean sheets in the last two games and we should have had six points – we don’t.
“It looks to me as if the spirit in the squad we’re already beaten and statistics will point you to that – 24 goals in 43 games.
“I’m trying to break that belief but it’s clearly endemic in the changing room.
“I have to change that in the next three games.
“Am I down? Yes. Am I out? Not a chance.
“They went physical, they went up to the front man and the difference between the two teams was the front man (Frank Nouble).”