SATURDAY’S victory may not have been one of the prettiest for Southend United but it could yet prove to be one of the most important.

The Shrimpers faced relegation rivals Barrow at Roots Hall and showed everything that was missing from their play earlier on this season to grind out a vital 1-0 victory.

The only goal of the game was scored by Reeco Hackett-Fairchild and the on loan Portsmouth forward made a fantastic first impression on his Blues debut.

Hackett-Fairchild signed for the Shrimpers earlier in the week and had an instant impact as he brilliantly cut in from the right flank before firing a fantastic effort into the bottom left hand corner of the net after just three minutes.

The goal, which came on Hackett-Fairchild’s 23rd birthday, was his first in the Football League and came after he broke the net with a similar effort during the warm up!

Hackett- Fairchild has yet to start for Portsmouth since making the switch to Fratton Park last January and, after a loan spell back at non-league Bromley, he will be determined to demonstrate his ability with Blues.

On this showing, Hackett-Fairchild will be an excellent addition for Blues who have often lacked creativity and quality in the final third this season.

But while this game may have been won by a moment of magic from Hackett-Fairchild it was excelling in the uglier side of the game which ultimately secured the three points.

The experienced Greg Halford was handed his first start for the Shrimpers but it came to an abrupt ending as he was sent off after just 52 minutes.

Halford was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Scott Quigley which, upon review, may have been a little harsh.

However, the 36-year-old ran the risk of being dismissed by making that kind of challenge in the first place.

Halford’s dismissal seemingly handed the impetus to Barrow who had not been beaten since appointing Michael Jolley as manager just before Christmas.

But Blues shut up shop superbly well, took their time whenever possible and, in hindsight, were never really troubled, despite the tension at the time of 10 additional minutes being played.

The victory continued the Shrimpers’ recent rejuvenation and made it four home triumphs in succession for Mark Molesley’s side who have now given themselves a real chance of survival.

At the start of December, Blues sat eight points from safety with a vastly inferior goal difference to those around them.

Since then, the bottom of the table Shrimpers have triumphed in four of their last six games and have taken a possible 13 points from the last 18 on offer to close the gap on the three teams immediately above them in the standings to just one point.

In doing so, Blues have now equalled the 19 point tally they amassed during the whole of the previous campaign, which was reduced to 35 games and they are currently fourth in the form guide.

That all bodes well for the forthcoming fixtures but nothing can be taken for granted and the Shrimpers are still right in the fight for relegation.

Strengthening the squad and a change of style means Blues are no longer dead and buried but an important few weeks lie in store.

Southend face three more relegation rivals – Grimsby Town, Bradford and Mansfield Town – before the end of the month and must also finalise the futures of some key squad members.

The loan spells of James Olayinka and Kyle Taylor will soon expire, as too will the contracts of the experienced and influential Alan McCormack and John White.

All four have played a key part in the recent revival and for White, Saturday was another memorable occasion as he made his 250th appearance for the club.

White’s no nonsense approach and extreme professionalism make him a popular figure at Roots Hall.

And he brought up another milestone by again leading by example as he read the game superbly at the heart of the back four to help Blues keep their fourth clean sheet in their last seven outings.

The latest shut out saw the Shrimpers beat Barrow in the first meeting between the two teams since 1972 and, right now, things seem to be heading in the right direction.

However, the past month has shown how quickly things can change in League Two, especially where Southend are concerned.