SOUTHEND United clinched their first victory since promotion to League One to condemn Peterborough to another miserable away day.
The newly-promoted Shakers bossed the first half and centre-back Adam Barrett gave them a 32nd-minute lead with a flicked finish from close range.
Noel Hunt eventually took one of several opportunities that fell his way to double the hosts’ lead with 20 minutes to go, heading in Ben Coker’s free-kick.
The lively Marcus Maddison rifled home late on to give Peterborough hope but Dave Robertson’s Posh suffered a fourth successive league defeat on the road this term.
Despite recent comments about his side’s nervousness and lack of belief, Southend boss Phil Brown will be delighted with the accomplished display at Roots Hall which earned their first three points since beating Wycombe on penalties in last season’s League Two play-off final.
Both sides began the day hovering above the relegation zone having won just once between them so far this term.
But there was a lively start to the lunchtime kick-off in Essex with Southend creating a number of chances with captain Jon White and left-back Coker bombing forward from the wide areas and strike duo Hunt and David Mooney forming an effective partnership.
Ex-Leyton Orient forward Mooney was denied by the feet of Posh skipper Ben Alnwick in goal and, later, the crossbar while Hunt headed off target from right-back White’s deep delivery.
Peterborough were largely on the back foot in the first half but threatened in spells with Maddison bursting through but could not get a shot away in a promising situation before Southend midfielder Michael Timlin was forced to head an inswinging corner off his goalline.
But the hosts took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Barrett popped up with an instinctive hooked finish for his first goal of the campaign.
Posh boss Robertson opted to send on Jack Collison for Conor Washington at the break and the ex-West Ham midfielder almost had an immediate impact with a curling shot which Coker headed away inside the six-yard box.
A brighter spell from the visitors at the start of the second half almost brought an equaliser when Michael Bostwick thundered a 25-yard piledriver against Daniel Bentley’s crossbar.
However, Southend soon regained control and should have been further ahead when Hunt played in Mooney but Alnwick saved well with his feet before Mooney himself headed off target when it looked easier to score.
Brown’s men did get the second goal which proved crucial in the end when Irishman Hunt – who had only scored four goals in his previous 48 games – guided home Coker’s curling setpiece.
Peterborough – who have done most of their good work after the break this term – rallied during the closing stages and Maddison’s low shot gave the London club a semblance of hope.
But there was no time for an equaliser and Posh – whose side boasted an average age of 23 – will have to do better if they are to improve on last season’s ninth-placed finish.
Meanwhile, Southend temporarily move up to 15th in the table and the relief was palpable as they finally got off the mark at the sixth attempt on their return to the third tier.
Substitutes: Pigott (on for N Hunt 84′), McLaughlin (on for Worrall 87′) and O’Neill (on for Mooney 90+1′).
Not used: Smith (GK), Prosser, Deegan, Payne.
Booked: Leonard (64′)
Goals: Barrett (32′), N Hunt (70′)
Substitutes: Collison (on for Washington 45′), Coulibaly (on for Gormley 65′) and Vassell (on for Davey 83′).
Not used: Curtis-Henry (GK), Brisley, Beautyman, Anderson.
Booked: Bostwick (69′)
Goals: Maddison (90′)
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) – 8/10