Plymouth withstood a late Southend fightback to triumph 3-2 in their Sky Bet League One clash at Roots Hall.
The Pilgrims seemed to be heading for a comfortable victory when they led 3-0 with just five minutes remaining.
However, two goals in quick succession saw the Shrimpers come close to rescuing an unlikely share of the spoils.
Plymouth broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when a poor defensive header from Stephen Hendrie enabled Antoni Sarcevic to confidently fire a low shot into the bottom left corner.
Freddie Ladapo was then denied by Shrimpers goalkeeper Nathan Bishop when clean through on goal but, four minutes into the second half, the striker strode onto David Fox’s long ball forward before firing home.
The Pilgrims made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute with a close-range effort from Ruben Lameiras before Southend replied with an 85th-minute penalty from Simon Cox.
Charlie Kelman – a 17-year-old Shrimpers substitute – then netted from close to the halfway line on his league debut but Plymouth hung on to boost their survival hopes.