Gillingham manager Steve Evans felt his side survived disrespecting strugglers Southend before securing a 1-0 win at Roots Hall.
Connor Ogilvie headed home the only goal of the game midway through the second half as the in-form Gills made it 14 league games without defeat.
But Evans was not happy with how his side started the game.
“We were really poor in the first half and really disjointed,” said Evans.
“I thought we were being a bit disrespectful towards Southend because of where they are in the league but I’ve watched enough footage to see these kids Sol has got can play a bit.
“We had a few harsh words when there was a break in the second half and from there on in we dominated proceedings apart from the odd counter-attack.
“We missed some half-chances to kill the game off and they missed a chance at the end when we switched off.
“But we got the win and at this stage of the season that’s all that matters.”
Neither side really threatened during an uneventful first half in which Shrimpers winger Stephen McLaughlin fired two long-range free-kicks at goal.
But Gillingham – who are now four points shy of the play-off places – stepped things up in the second half and came close to taking the lead when Ogilvie headed Tom O’Connor’s corner wide of the right post.
In reply, Gills goalkeeper Jack Bonham did well to deny Charlie Kelman before the visitors bagged their winner in the 67th minute when Ogilvie climbed above Southend’s debutant goalkeeper Harry Seaden to head home Jordan Graham’s cross.
Southend wasted a clear-cut chance to equalise late on, with Matt Rush firing wide of the left post, but they remain second from bottom in the table, 14 points from safety.
But boss Sol Campbell was pleased with how his young Shrimpers performed.
“For me, the lads have played fantastically well and put a fantastic shift in against a very physical side,” said Campbell.
“We stood up to the challenge and some of the young players played really, really well and showed good character too.
“We were a bit unlucky at the end.
“We had a chance to equalise at the end but we couldn’t finish it off.
“But we have to make sure we’re difficult to beat.
“We’re weak all over the pitch so we have to work harder than everyone.
“We have a lot of youngsters who have the energy but they have to work on the positional sense.
“They will have that in time but we have to keep probing and hopefully we can get some wins before the end of the season.”