Southend recorded only their second win in eight matches when they saw off Darlington at Roots Hall.
Both goals arrived in the space of two minutes just before the break when visiting defender Craig Liddle was off the field having stitches in a cheek wound following a clash with striker Mark Rawle.
Kevin Maher broke the deadlock when he turned in a low drive from recent signing Gavin Strachan at the far post.
Two minutes later Strachan provided the opportunity from which Neil Jenkins headed his sixth goal of the campaign to put the home side firmly in control.
Influential skipper Liddle returned for the second half but was unable to inspire his side to get back into the game.
Indeed, it was Southend who continued to create the better chances and they would have won by a far greater margin had Rawle not squandered a couple of great opportunities.
He also forced goalkeeper Andy Collett into a superb save with a stinging 25-yard drive.
Southend: Flahavan, Henry, Cort, McSweeney, Searle, Clark,
Maher, Strachan, Jenkins, Rawle, Darby. Subs: Gay, Beard,
Thurgood, Kightly, Jordan.
Darlington: Collett, Pearson, Whitehead, Liddle, Betts, Newey,
Maddison, Nicholls, Valentine, Mellanby, Corbett. Subs: Porter,
Naylor, Clark, Wainwright, Campbell.
Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).