Southend United ended a run of three league games without a win after a penalty from Jason Demetriou and lovely goal from Josh Wright saw Blues beat Oldham 2-0 at Roots Hall.
Blues banished their spot-kick woes just after quarter of an hour when Wright was brought down by Cameron Dummigan, leaving Demetriou to send Johny Placide the wrong way with the penalty.
Demetriou was then involved up the other end when he gave away a penalty by fouling Rob Hunt, but Craig Davies was denied by a superb save from Mark Oxley to keep Blues in front.
The home side then doubled their lead early in the second-half when Wright rounded off a lovely team move, volleying in Stephen McLaughlin’s cross to give Southend breathing space.
Oldham had chances to make it a nervy finish with Eoin Doyle having their best chances, heading wide from six-yards out before hitting the outside of the post with another header moments later.
Phil Brown’s side though held on comfortably with the win sending Southend into the top 10, whilst Oldham remain three points above the relegation zone in 18th.
The win lifted the spirits of the Blues boss who had been disappointed with his side missing opportunities against Portsmouth, MK Dons and Oxford in recent matches.
Brown made just one enforced change to the side that drew 1-1 against Oxford last week, giving Stephen Hendrie his first league start of the season, replacing the suspended Michael Timlin.
Both sides started brightly as the winter sun beamed down on Roots Hall with Eoin Doyle having a chance inside the first minute for the visitors as the ball fell kindly to him outside the area before the former Chesterfield-man struck his half-volley over the crossbar.
Southend responded immediately with Stephan McLaughlin sending his half-volleyed effort across the face of goal, but his shot wasn’t going to trouble Johny Placide in the Latics’ goal.
Neither goalkeeper was really tested in the opening stages of the game, but with 17 minutes on the clock, Josh Wright went down under the challenge of Cameron Dummigan, resulting in referee Charles Breakspear pointing to the spot.
The home fans’ cheers at the award were understandably muted after Southend had missed all three of their last three spot-kicks, and four out of five penalties in total this season.
After Simon Cox, Nile Ranger and Josh Wright had all failed from 12-yards in recent games, Jason Demetriou was next up under Phil Brown’s ‘penalty policy’ and he confidently sent Placide the wrong way to put Blues in front.
Southend were now playing with some confidence and having gone 1-0 up, they should have gone into the break two to the good when Stephen Hendrie’s cross found Ryan Leonard six-yards out but he somehow managed to head the ball wide.
It looked like Blues might rue that missed chance going into the break as Oldham were awarded a penalty of their own just before the interval when Demetriou fouled Rob Hunt inside the area.
Craig Davies stepped up to take the penalty and struck it powerfully only for Mark Oxley to get a strong hand to the ball to tip it over the crossbar and over the roof of the stand to keep it at 1-0.
Blues’ 1-0 lead quickly became 2-0 early in the second half when Wright applied the finishing touch to a superb team goal to double Southend’s advantage.
Marc-Antoine Fortune created some space before playing a delightful flick into the path of Stephen McLaughlin. The Irishman dug out a cross on the stretch that found Wright at the far-post who volleyed the ball back across Placide’s goal and into the bottom corner.
The Oldham boss Richie Wellens reacted to going 2-0 down by making a double change with Gevaro Nepomuceno and Brian Wilson coming on.
Southend now had themselves a bit of breathing room but even at 2-0 Oldham were still in the game. A third goal though would have killed the Latics off and Demetriou should have made the game safe when he burst into the area before shooting wide.
Tope Obadeyi was Oldham’s third change and he almost made an immediate impact as his cross from the right picked out the head of Doyle who was unmarked in the Southend area, only for the Latics number 13 to let Blues off the hook by heading wide.
Doyle then went even closer to making it a nervy finish at Roots Hall when he rose highest to head the ball down and towards goal, seeing it come off the outside of the post.
Southend though would see the game out comfortably as Oldham failed to score for their third successive game, with the win seeing Blues rise to 9th, seven points adrift of the play-off places.
Blues XI: Oxley, Hendrie, Ferdinand (C), Turner, Kightly (Wordsworth 45+2’), Fortune, Cox (Ba 83’), McLaughlin, Leonard, Demetriou, Wright. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Yearwood, McGlashan, White, Ranger
Oldham Athletic XI: Placide, Dummigan, Gardner, Davies, Doyle, Menig (Nepomuceno 58’), Hunt, Fane, Clarke (C) (Br Wilson 60’), Byrne (Obadeyi 72’), Bryan. Sub Not Used: Be Wilson, Flynn, Omrani, Green
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Ian Rathbone & Stuart Butler
Fourth Official: Stephen Finch
Southend United: Jason Demetriou (p)17’, Josh Wright 54’
Oldham Athletic: None
Southend United: Jason Demetriou 41’, Stephen McLaughlin 56’
Oldham Athletic: Eoin Doyle 90+2’