Ten-man Southend United defeated Shrewsbury Town 2-1 at Greenhous Meadow to move level on points with the play-off pack.
Will Atkinson gave the Blues the lead with a stunning 25-yard strike in the first period, before being pegged back early in the second-half by Andy Mangan.
Southend were reduced to ten-men for the second game running, as Michael Timlin saw red for second bookable offence midway through the second-half.
But that was not to deter the Blues from gaining a priceless victory, when Stephen Hendrie fired the Blues in to ecstasy with 11 minutes to go.
Phil Brown made two changes going in to this one, with David Mooney and Noel Hunt coming in to replace Tyrone Barnett (ineligible) and Gary Deegan (suspended).
The Blues, lining-up in a 3-4-3 formation, had Will Atkinson to thank that they didn’t find themselves behind early on.
The midfielder headed Jean Louis Akpa Akpro’s goal bound header off the line from a corner from the right.
Ryan Leonard charged at the Shrewsbury defence on 8 minutes, after intercepting the ball well in the middle.
The Southend man managed to get a shot off on the edge of the box, though it was comfortably dealt with by keeper, Jayson Leutwiler.
Akpro got away from his marker again just after the ten-minute mark following another well worked corner from the home side.
Fortunately for Blues, the Frenchman’s header was straight at Dan Bentley.
Both sides looked dangerous on the attack; the home side tried to knock at the door with some fizzing balls in to the box as Southend looked to counter.
Shrews continued to find joy from corners. Bentley got down well to save a Ian Black strike after a knock-down on 22’.
James Wallace should have done better moments later as he was played through. The winger could only slice the effort wide from just inside the box, after good pressure from Adam Barrett.
Shrewsbury looked to be getting a hold of the game, when a Atkinson stunner put the Blues in the lead on 24 minutes.
As Jack Payne was dispossessed on the edge of the centre of the box, the ball teed back to Atkinson who hit a first-time 25-yard thunderbolt past Leutwiler.
The Blues had to defend their lead almost immediately, as Zac Whitbread connected with a looping cross at the back post. Bentley saved immaculately from point-blank range to deny the defender.
The Blues nearly doubled their lead from the same spot as their first on the half-hour mark; this time it was Stephen Hendrie who tried his luck, though his effort went just wide with Leutwiler sprawling.
If first you succeeded, try and try again. Jack Payne tried his luck from that familiar 25-yard mark five minutes before half-time.
His deflected strike had beaten the keeper all ends-up, only to be denied by the woodwork. The rebound then fell to Payne who hit just over.
Leutwiler may have been beaten once, but he was determined to keep it at 1-0 at the break.
The former Middlesbrough stopper denied long-range efforts from both Hendrie and Leonard with acrobatic saves on both occasions.
Half-time: Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Southend United
It was not the best start to the second-half for Southend, as Shrewsbury got themselves back on terms on 47 minutes.
Andy Mangan seized on a loose ball from a free-kick pumped in to the box, firing home from six-yards out.
Phil Brown reacted to the setback by introducing Michael Timlin to the field, who replaced Noel Hunt.
Timlin was straight in to the heart of the action, picking up a booking for a foul in the middle within minutes of coming on.
The early goal seemed to spur the home side on, and they went close to taking the lead on 57’; Bentley saving magnificently from a Knight-Percival header from yet another threatening corner-ball.
Shrewsbury continued to press, asking questions of Southend’s back-line.
Blues then saw red for the second game in a row, as Timlin was given his marching orders after picking up his second yellow card for a foul near the right corner flag as they looked to get a cross in.
Sam McQueen and Jamar Loza were both introduced to field shortly after the hour mark, as Phil Brown looked to change his side’s fortunes.
Set pieces continued to be Shrewsbury biggest threat; Knight-Percival nodding just wide from a free-kick on 73’.
Whilst looking dangerous on the counter with Loza up top, the Blues had to work hard at the back to keep the scores level. Bentley did well again to smother a Whalley shot inside the box.
What a stop that proved to be, as Southend regained the lead on 79 minutes. The pacey Loza fired a low drive across the box following a clever counter.
The ball landed in to the path of Hendrie, who fired the ball in to the roof of the net.
All attention turned to defence now, as the ten men looked to protect their slender lead; Black fired just over from the edge of the box on 80’.
The home side continued to barrage the Southend defence, to no avail.
The sheer metal of the defence could be seen in stoppage time as Whalley closed in on the Blues goal following a mistake from Hendrie.
With seemingly only the keeper to beat, Adam Thompson performed a superhuman block to see the ball out for a corner.
No chance was this team to be beaten. 2-1 it finished to ten-man Southend!
Southend: Bentley, O'Neill, Barrett (c)Thompson, Bolger Hendrie Payne, Atkinson, Leonard, Mooney, Hunt.
Subs: Worrall, Timlin, Smith, Hurst, McQueen, Loza, Kamara.
Shrewsbury: Leutwiler, Whitbread, Black, Wellens, Brown, Grimmer, Mangan, Knight-Percival, Akpro, Smith, Wallace.
Subs: Halstead, Sader, Vassell, Whalley, Vernon, Ogogo, Clark
Attendance: 4,602 (231 Southend)