SOUTHEND United moved four points clear of the National League drop zone with a vital 1-0 victory at relegation rivals Weymouth this afternoon.

An early effort from Matt Dennis saw the Shrimpers secure all three points at the Bob Lucas Stadium.

And Blues were not made to pay for wasting a succession of good chances in the second half.

Kevin Maher’s side bagged the only goal of the game after just five minutes, with Dennis on target for the third game in succession.

The on-loan Norwich City youngster latched onto a long defensive clearance and nipped in ahead of a hesitant Ollie Hartfield before sprinting clean through on goal from the halfway line and scoring with an excellent low finish into the right hand side of the net.

The hosts replied with ex Shrimpers loanee Tyler Cordner curling a 25 yard free-kick straight at Southend goalkeeper Steve Arnold before Weymouth threatened again just before the break with skipper Josh McQuoid seeing his goalbound effort blocked by Shaun Hobson.

After the break, Blues came close to doubling their lead with Rhys Murphy seeing his snap-shot pushed wide of the left post by Weymouth goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons.

Moments later, a cross-shot from Dennis flew across the face of goal before Dennis also headed over a left wing cross from Dalby.

With the Shrimpers still on top, Dalby blazed a right footed effort over the crossbar from a decent position following a dangerous ball from Dennis.

Murphy then saw a well-struck left footed shot parried away by Weymouth goalkeeper Fitzsimons before Blues made their first change of the afternoon with 20 minutes to go as Matt Rush replaced a tiring Dennis up top.

Rush soon curled an effort inches wide of the right post before the Shrimpers made a second change with Nathan Ferguson replacing Murphy.

Ferguson immediately saw a long range effort fly just wide of the left upright but the Shrimpers did not need a second goal as a poor Weymouth side posed few problems late on the visitors started 2022 with a win.