Southend United suffered a 2-1 defeat against promotion rivals Cheltenham Town at Roots Hall this evening.
Two first half goals gave the away side all three points as a Marlon Pack penalty and a strike from Paul Benson was enough.
Southend scored a consolation in injury time through a very impressive Ben Reeves after he turned superbly in the box before curling a right footed strike into the top corner.
Blues had a great chance with only a minute gone after Reeves danced his way through the Cheltenham defence before seeing his effort saved by Scott Brown after an excellent through ball from debutant Danny Mayor.
Reeves could’ve gone down in the box under pressure from Steve Elliott but the tricky forward managed to stay on his feet before the Cheltenham keeper smothered the effort.
Cheltenham took the lead in the 13th minute through a Pack penalty which the central midfielder slotted confidently into the bottom right of the goal sending Paul Smith the wrong way.
A rash challenge from Alex Woodyard just inside the box on Russ Penn gave the away side the opportunity to take the lead which Pack made no mistake of.
Byron Harrison had a glorious chance to double The Robins’ advantage but after controlling the ball well the striker blazed his effort over the bar from 12 yards out.
Southend failed to create any clear cut chances and with 25 minutes gone the away side had another chance through Penn after the midfielder rode a challenge from Anthony Straker before cutting in on the right and seeing his left footed strike hit the side netting.
Blues hit back with Mayor and Reeves linking up well with the latter firing a left footed effort at goal which Brown got a strong hand to parrying the ball away to safety.
Southend’s injury woes continued with Marc Laird going off with what looked like a suspected hamstring injury with Britt Assombalonga the replacement.
A defensive mix up gifted Cheltenham their second goal of the evening in the 38th minute with Benson tucking the ball away.
Michael Spillane attempted to usher a long ball forward into the path of Smith but the keeper hesitated and Benson managed to poke the ball into the back of the net.
Cheltenham went into half time with their two goal lead still intact but Blues thought they had halved the deficit in the 52nd minute after Reeves cut in and fired a dangerous effort at goal which Brown parried right into the path of Assombalonga who tucked it away only to see the linesman flag for offside.
Southend had another chance minutes later with Spillane’s flicked header saved comfortably by Brown after the defender connected to Mayor’s dangerous near post delivery.
Blues continued to press for a way back into the game and Paul Sturrock introduced Ryan Leonard as the midfielder replaced Woodyard in the centre of midfield.
Southend had a huge penalty shout turned away by referee Stuart Atwell after Leonard looked to make an instant impact causing trouble in the Robins defence as he seemed to be taken down by Elliott.
Reeves pulled a goal back for the Blues in added time after he excellently turned Elliott in the box before curling the ball out of Brown’s reach and into the top right hand corner of the goal.
Blues were unable to find the equaliser they needed with Cheltenham Town securing all three points as Southend slipped out of the play off places.