Two headed goals from Marc-Antoine Fortune and Theo Robinson grabbed Southend a vital 2-0 win against in-form Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
Southend were second best for most of the first half and Oxford were close to going in front when Chey Dunkley smashed the post and Chris Maguire hit the side netting with a free-kick.
But having remained resolute the Blues took the lead just after the hour mark when Jason Demetriou’s cross was headed home by Fortune.
Oxford pressed for an equaliser but couldn’t breach the Southend rear-guard before Theo Robinson came off the bench to grab his first goal since returning to the club, heading in a corner late on.
The win maintains Southend’s impressive record at the Kassam where they have now only lost once in their last nine visits and also sees the Blues rise to 7th in the table.
Southend travelled to the Kassam Stadium off the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat away at Millwall on Saturday.
It was a different story for Oxford United who came into the game off the back of five straight wins and they were much the better of the two sides in the opening 20 minutes.
Marvin Johnson and Liam Sercombe had half chances before Chris Maguire had half the Kassam on their feet as his free kick looked to have beaten Ted Smith, only to have hit the side netting.
Having gone so close with Maguire’s free-kick the Yellows went even closer as a corner was crashed against the post by the head of Chey Dunkley with Ryan Leonard on hand to hook away the rebound.
Oxford though came straight back and a cross from the left picked out the run of Toni Martinez who found himself unmarked but couldn’t direct his volley on target.
Southend were struggling to get any sort of foothold in the game and Oxford had another opportunity as Ryan Ledson was fed the ball on the edge of the area but he flashed his shot wide.
The Blues had to wait until the 36th minute to carve out an opening after Anthony Wordsworth’s corner was headed down to Simon Cox with his overhead kick being tipped over by Simon Eastwood.
Oxford began the second half with Martinez putting the ball in the back of the net only for his goal to be ruled out by an early offside flag by the assistant.
Despite not creating much in the way of clear-cut chances the longer Southend held firm at the back the more their confidence grew of potentially snatching a goal up the other end, and that’s exactly what they did just after the hour mark as Marc-Antoine Fortune put the Blues in front.
After riding a couple of challenges Fortune sprayed the ball out to Jason Demetriou whose cross was met firmly by the head of the Blues number 14, powering the ball beyond Eastwood.
The home side reacted well to going behind and immediately went in search of an equaliser that would prevent their first defeat in six games.
Oxford had a loud appeal for a penalty turned down after Michael Timlin made a perfectly timed challenge inside the area, and from the resulting corner Dunkley headed straight at Smith.
Rob Hall went close as well as he had a free-kick in a dangerous position curl perilously wide of Smith’s goal before Southend made the points safe late on through Theo Robinson.
Introduced as a sub shortly after the Blues went in front, the unmarked Robinson was picked out by a corner from Luke O’Neil with the substitute planting his header into the back of the net to wrap up the points.
Martinez had a great chance late on for Oxford to force a nervy finish but his effort was deflected wide of the post off the legs of Smith as Southend kept a clean sheet to add to the three points.
Oxford United XI | Eastwood, Lundstram (C), Nelson, Martinez, Sercombe (Hemmings 61’), Maguire (McAleny 71’), Edwards, Hall, Ledson, Johnson, Dunkley. Subs Not Used: Stevens, Ruffels, Rothwell, Long, Raglan
Blues XI | Smith, Coker, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin, Cox (O’Neill 83’), Fortune (Ranger 73’), McGlashan (Robinson 68’), Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (C). Subs Not Used: Bexon, O’Neill, Amos, Nouble, Inniss
Referee: Darren England
Assistants: Andrew Hendley & Thomas Ramsey
Fourth Official: Kevin Morris
Oxford United: None
Southend United: Marc-Antoine Fortune 62’, Theo Robinson 88’
Oxford United: None
Southend United: Jason Demetrio 77’