Southend United assistant manager Dave Penney hailed Jacob Murphy's contribution after the flying winger tore Rochdale apart in a 3-0 win at Spotland.
The victory boosted the visitors' hopes of securing a play-off finish while delivering a blow to Dale's title challenge and their automatic promotion aspirations.
Nervy Dale were second best throughout and Murphy, making his first start since joining on loan from Norwich, took full advantage, netting his side's second goal after setting up Barry Corr for the opener. Michael Timlin completed the scoring seconds into the second half.
"We gave Jacob Murphy his first start and he was fantastic for that hour," said Penney.
"He has blinding pace and was also very cool in front in goal. Not many people would've passed that ball like he did for Barry Corr to score and then he showed good energy to score himself.
"He hasn't played too much so he's fitness is lagging behind a little bit and that's why he had to come off.
"We're pleased with him and the third goal really killed it off after that."
Dale boss Keith Hill said his side must recover quickly from their "crisis of confidence", after their scoreless run was extended to four games.
The result leaves them just three points above Fleetwood in the battle for a top-three spot.
"It was difficult, a tense game and I think the tension showed in the performance," said Hill.
"There looked as if there was a little bit of a crisis of confidence for the players and it didn't get any better for us from the first mistakes onwards.
"It's disappointing but you have to collect your positive energy and make sure you move on to the next available opportunity.
"We have three more opportunities, but we can't afford to perform with those type of nerves and make those kind of mistakes and expect to get where we want to get to.
"It's okay wanting to achieve but you have to have the bravery and commitment and if you have that it turns you into a better person and a better team."