KENNY Jackett admitted Pompey had to fight hard for a victory which sees them close in on the play-offs.
Brett Pitman’s 12th goal of the season gave his team a 1-0 success in front of an attendance of 18,431 - the biggest crowd of the campaign.
It means the Blues are now two points off the top six, but Jackett knows it was tough going for his team.
Jackett said: ‘It was hard-fought.
‘The save from McGee was key for us in the first half.
‘I was surprised the penalty was given, but the ref was closer than I was - and Nile Ranger put it over anyway.
‘Southend went with a diamond in the first half and it gave us problems, so it was about getting the ball wide with a packed midfield.
‘It was a great ball from Kennedy for the goal and Brett’s header was the key difference in a tight game - a very tight game.’