Southend United suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Keith Hill’s Rochdale on Wednesday night at Spotland.
Michael Rose fired home a free-kick to give the home side a half-time lead but that was cancelled out just a minute after the restart as Mark Phillips headed home Kevan Hurst’s corner.
The hosts though were back ahead just five minutes later as Bobby Grant headed home George Donnelly’s cross.
Blues went in search of a second equaliser but were undone by two goals in three minutes as first Grant, with his second of the game, and then Ashley Grimes with a curling effort put Rochdale 4-1 up.
Barry Corr scored a late consolation but Rochdale held on to move level on points with Blues.
Phil Brown opted to make four changes from Sunday’s Wembley defeat as Phillips, Ben Reeves, Marc Laird and Corr all came in to the side.
Bilel Mohsni, Luke Prosser, Gavin Tomlin and Anthony Straker made way, with Tomlin and Straker among the substitutes. Prosser was ruled out with injury with Mohsni was not involved.
The first real chance of the game fell the way of the hosts, fresh off the back of an impressive 3-0 win against Fleetwood Town, as Grant picked the ball up and left fly from 25-yards but saw his shot parried away well by Blues ‘keeper Paul Smith.
Corr, starting alongside Britt Assombalonga in attack, had Blues’ first chance of the game but saw his shot deflected behind for a corner. From the resulting ball in, Corr couldn’t quite get enough of a connection with his head to turn it home.
The striker went close again with 25 minutes on the clock. After blocking a clearance he latched on to the loose ball but couldn’t quite chip it over the onrushing Josh Lillis in the Rochdale goal.
Just after the half-hour mark though, and the hosts were ahead. Rose curled a free-kick home from 25-yards after he himself had been fouled by Laird.
Blues looked for an immediate response ands it almost came as Reeves’ cutback found Corr who saw his shot blocked on the line by Joe Rafferty.
That goal had opened the game up, and a minute later, Donnelly was denied by an excellent save from the legs of Smith.
Rochdale’s lead was wiped out with just a minute gone in the second-half as Hurst’s corner was flicked into the bottom corner by the head Phillips.
Blues weren’t on level terms for long as Donnelly’s cross was met by Grant who headed the ball past Smith in the 51st minute.
Brown replaced Reeves with Gavin Tomlin and within minutes Blues were almost level. Hurst’s cross was met by the head of Corr, but the striker saw his effort come back off the post.
Having gone so close to drawing level, Blues found themselves 3-1 down just a minute later. Grant cut in from the right hand side onto his left foot and curled an excellent strike past Smith into the top corner.
Blues were under the cosh and minutes later it was 4-1 to Rochdale. Ryan Cresswell was dispossessed by Grimes who ran through on goal to calmly curl the ball around Smith.
Grant almost grabbed his third and Rochdale’s fifth after a good solo run but was denied by the strong hand of Smith who palmed it over for a corner.
Corr added a consolation for Blues late on from substitute Freddy Eastwood's corner, but the hosts saw the game out to move level on points with Blues.