Southend United suffered their first defeat in eight games as a below par performance at Torquay United ended in a 1-0 reverse.
After a terrific 3-1 win at Chesterfield in the FA Cup last weekend, Blues’ return to league action ended in disappointing fashion.
Torquay United’s John Marquis, on loan from Millwall, who Blues will face in the FA Cup third round following that win at Chesterfield, scored the only goal in a game hugely affected by strong wind at Plainmoor.
Phil Brown named an unchanged side from the FA Cup win at Chesterfield for the trip to Torquay United with midfielders Will Atkinson and Ryan Leonard only able to get a place on the bench on their return to action.
Such was Brown’s options ahead of the game, Craig Reid wasn’t involved at all, while Cauley Woodrow served the final game of his three-match ban.
Both sides were having to deal with a swirling wind and the hosts had the better of the opening 25 minutes.
Despite their bright start, Torquay’s first chance of the game found the car park behind the stand rather than the net. Damien Mozika found space but blazed wildly over from 25-yards.
Blues’ first effort wasn’t much better however, as Marc Laird volleyed over from 20-yards. Conor Clifford then had the game’s first shot on target, but his curling effort was held by Michael Poke.
Torquay then had the first real chance, but Mozika’s header from Billy Bodin’s cross went just wide of Dan Bentley’s goal.
Blues hadn’t been at their best in the opening 45, but almost found themselves ahead a minute after the restart.
Kevan Hurst touched the ball back for Barry Corr to volley, but the striker’s effort was impressively tipped over by Poke.
Corr had a clear sighting of goal moments later, but the striker mistimed his header from Hurst’s cross.
That miss proved costly as in the 50th minute, Torquay led. Marquis was played in over the top by Bodin and the striker expertly volleyed past Bentley into the far corner.
It was almost 2-0 moments later after a scramble in the box gave Torquay another chance, but the crossbar came to Blues’ rescue.
From the rebound, Bentley was called in to a point blank save, and from the resulting corner, Jak McCourt hit the bar again for the hosts.
Leonard and Freddy Eastwood were thrown on by Brown in search of a route back into the game just before the hour mark.
It was Eastwood who created a chance for Corr to grab an equaliser. The 30-year-old teed up his strike partner, but his shot lacked enough power or conviction and was easily saved by Poke.
That was to be Blues' best chance in the stages, as Torquay held on to claim all three points and condemn Blues to their first defeat in eight games.
Blues: Bentley; White, Kiernan, Prosser, Coker; Laird (Leonard 53), Timlin, Clifford (Eastwood 62); Hurst, Straker (Payne 73), Corr.
Subs not used: Smith, Phillips, Thompson, Atkinson