ON an afternoon where headlines were made off the pitch, it was events on it which were far more crucial for Southend United.

The Shrimpers have endured a horrific start to the season, picking up just one point from their opening eight matches.

But everything that had been missing from Blues’ games during that wretched run was back in abundance at the weekend as they dug deep to secure a 1-0 win at MK Dons.

At times it was not pretty but life in the lower reaches of League One rarely is.

And Blues showed commendable battling qualities and organisation to finally pick up their first League victory of the season.

Rob Kiernan and Harry Lennon both produced commanding displays at the heart of the back four while in front of them the returning Mark Milligan also played a key part in protecting a defence which had been left hopelessly exposed in recent weeks.

After all, the Shrimpers headed into Saturday’s clash with the worst defensive record in the top four divisions having already conceded 24 goals in eight outings.

But you would not have guessed that was the case at the weekend as Blues fought hard and perhaps showed more spirit and fight than in any other match this season to bag their first clean sheet since January.

Of course, Charlie Kelman’s early goal gave the Shrimpers something to cling onto but the visitors stayed strong and were suddenly far harder to break down, leaving Mark Oxley largely untroubled between the sticks.

Now one win from nine outings should not really be cause for celebration but Saturday’s showing and result was certainly a big step in the right direction.

And the victory was made even more impressive given the absence of top goalscorer Stephen Humphrys.

The in-form striker has netted five goals in his last five games but had to miss out on facing MK Dons due to an illness.

Sam Mantom and Jason Demetriou were also absent while Stephen McLaughlin and John White both went off injured.

But none of that could stop Blues coming out on top.

The battling characteristics shown against the Dons must now be seen on a consistent basis by the Shrimpers as they bid to work their way out of trouble.

And Saturday’s success must be made to be a turning point in their season.

But who should lead the team moving forward remains the biggest talking point.

Caretaker chief Gary Waddock has now taken four points from his three games in charge and seeing off the Dons will have done his chances of landing the job on a permanent basis no harm at all.

Waddock has certainly brought the players closer together but it remains to be seen how long he remains in charge.

His immediate future in the role was also thrown into further doubt when Henrik Larsson was spotted in the stands alongside Blues chairman Ron Martin at Stadium MK.

Larsson had previously been ruled out of the running at Roots Hall but will now be among those being interviewed for the role.

Larsson’s qualities as a footballer remain beyond doubt and he enjoyed an illustrious career which saw him lining up for the likes of Barcelona, Celtic and Manchester United while also winning more than 100 caps for Sweden.

His appointment would bring publicity, attention and a sense of immediate excitement to the Shrimpers, but would he bring the points needed to secure survival in League One?

Larsson has a 35 per cent win record back home in Sweden but how much would he know about League One football in England and would he be able to work with players in the lower Leagues?

All of these questions will be running through Martin’s mind right now.

But the next boss should be the best name not the biggest and appointing Larsson would be a huge gamble at a time where Blues can ill afford to get things wrong.

Martin was keen to stress Larsson’s presence does not automatically mean the Swede will soon be taking charge of the Shrimpers but the bookmakers now have him as the firm favourite to replace Kevin Bond.

However, Waddock already knows the players and deserves the chance to lead Blues into Saturday’s clash with Accrington Stanley.

But after that a decision needs to be made in a bid to secure much needed stability and more scorelines like Saturday.