Southend boosted their hopes of Coca-Cola Championship survival and completed a miserable week for QPR with a 5-0 rout at Roots Hall.
Following a brawl during their friendly with the Chinese Olympic team, goals from Lee Bradbury, Mark Gower, Efe Sodje and a Kevin Maher brace added to Rangers’ pain.
Southend manager Steve Tilson is convinced his team will now avoid relegation after thumping the west Londoners.
“We have only lost once in eight games and that’s a good return,” said Tilson. “I believe that we can stay up, although we still have a lot of work to do.
“We went in 1-0 up and QPR put us under a lot of pressure in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but it was a fantastic result and a fantastic performance overall.
“The lads dug in when we were having our bad run earlier in the season and we have now given ourselves a good platform to build on.”
Tilson and QPR boss John Gregory also stressed Wednesday’s brawl had no impact on the game.
“If last week was my best day at the club, tonight was the worst,” said Gregory, referring to the 3-1 win over Burnley last Saturday.
“All the players know they have been poor tonight but we must not take anything away from Southend.
“Everything they hit went in and my biggest concern is that some of my players dropped their heads so quickly.”
Southend took the lead on nine minutes when Rangers skipper Steve Lomas made a routine back pass to former Shrimpers keeper Simon Royce, but his clearance cannoned straight off Bradbury and into the net.
QPR had a let-off when Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s cross was punched clear by Royce but fell to Gower, who rifled in a right-footed shot that was hacked off the line by Sami Timoska.
Rangers struggled to make much impact up front but should have had a penalty when Peter Clarke’s clumsy challenge brought down Lee Cook, but it went unpunished by referee Peter Walton.
The visitors had their first shot on target in the 62nd minute when Gareth Ainsworth set up Adam Bolder, who fired a 25-yard shot straight at Darryl Flahavan.
Eight minutes later the Shrimpers doubled their advantage when skipper Maher chipped a free-kick over the Rangers defence and Gower ran behind to fire past Royce from 14 yards.
Martin Rowlands had a great chance to reduce the arrears on 74 minutes but his 25-yard shot was turned out for a corner by Flahavan.
Eleven minutes from time Southend got their third when Maher’s left-wing corner was headed home from close range by Sodje for his first goal of the season.
Rowlands then blasted straight at Flahavan before Southend’s Alan McCormack’s goal was ruled out for offside.
That did not matter as Maher rifled in a snap shot in injury-time and then curled in a free-kick beyond Royce’s despairing drive to complete the rout.