SOUTHEND United stunned high-flying Rochdale with a superb 3-0 win at Spotland this afternoon.
Goals from the recalled Barry Corr and Jacob Murphy and a second half strike from Michael Timlin saw the Shrimpers come out on top.
And the victory, which came just six days after a shock 1-0 defeat to struggling AFC Wimbledon, also strengthened Phil Brown’s side place in the play-offs positions.
Despite the final score-line, it was Rochdale who started brightly and, with nine minutes on the clock, they wasted a fine chance to open the scoring when winger Joe Bunney charged through only to slice his eight yard shot well wide of the left post when he should have done better.
Blues immediately made the most of the let-off and went in front just two minutes later with Corr on target.
The goal was created in unselfish fashion by Murphy who dispossessed Matt Done before charging through on goal and rolling the ball in to the path of Corr who tapped home from close range.
Rochdale initially reacted well to going behind and almost levelled in the 18th minute when Done’s low, left footed shot flew just inches wide of the right post.
Moments later, winger Ian Henderson slammed a stunning 25 yard shot against the underside of the crossbar and, in the 21st minute, ex Blues loanee Matt Lund shot over when clean through on goal.
But, having survived the scares, Southend soon hit back and almost doubled their lead when Timlin’s shot from a narrow angle was scrambled off the goal-line by Oliver Lancashire.
Rochdale were then forced in to making a change when their top goalscorer Hogan limped off injured and was replaced in attack by George Donnelly.
Dale then suffered a further blow just before the break when Blues doubled their lead with a well worked goal.
The move was started by Will Atkinson who impressively turned his man in the midfielder before speeding forward and teeing up Ryan Leonard in the left hand side of the penalty area.
Leonard’s shot appeared to be heading wide of the far post but Murphy was perfectly positioned the volley the ball in to the back of the net from six yards.
Shocked Rochdale boss Keith Hill made a double change at half-time with Jamie Allen replacing Peter Cavanagh and Peter Vincenti coming on for Michael Rose.
But, just 20 seconds in to the second half, the Shrimpers made it 3-0 as Timlin volleyed home a left wing cross from Kevan Hurst.
Dale thought they had got back in to the game when Done headed home from close range but the effort was ruled out for offside.
The relieved Blues then almost extended their lead when a stunning long range shot from Leonard smashed against the top of the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards and, with 66 minutes on the clock, Southend made their first change with Anthony Straker coming on to replace Murphy.
Seven minutes later, Blues made their second substitution with Jamal Loza taking Corr’s place in attack.
Luke Prosser then also came on for Hurst in the closing stages as Southend comfortably held on to record a vital victory.