Southend manager Paul Sturrock was "delighted" to see his team return to winning ways after beating 10-man Port Vale 3-0 at Roots Hall.
The hosts came into the game having dropped two points at home to Dagenham on Monday, but first-half goals from Mark Phillips and Liam Dickinson and a Gareth Owen own goal earned Sturrock's side a victory against an injury-hit Valiants side. The visitors' misery was compounded in the 64th minute when defender Clayton McDonald was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Sturrock said: "I'm delighted that we are back on the rails again after the sticky patch that we have been on in recent weeks. We could have had more chances but we got in their faces and that made the difference."
He added: "It was great to see us looking like our old selves again and we definitely had the confidence back.
"The second half was a non-event after the red card and the own goal, but this was our game in hand and it was important to have won it and opened up a gap."
Vale boss Micky Adams called his side's performance the worst he had seen in his time as manager.
"I'm at the forefront of all things involving this club and that was an abject display," he said. "There was only one side who thought they could win the game and one side who thought they could not, and that was us from the kick-off.
"If you do not do the basics right from set-pieces then you have no chance. Last week at Cheltenham we conceded from a corner and this week we have done the same.
"If you give away goals to a top-three side then you have no chance. That was the worst display I have seen from a Vale side, certainly since I have been at the club.
"We paid Southend too much respect and it is a bitterly disappointing result. There will be a lot of soul-searching from everyone."