Southend United put Coventry City to the sword in a 3-0 demolition at Roots Hall on Saturday afternoon.
Despite playing over 40 minutes with 10 men after Gary Deegan saw red, the Blues ran out comfortable winners thanks to a Tyrone Barnett brace and an opener from Jack Payne.
The Blues went in to the game unchanged, lining up in a 5-3-2 formation, with new signings Glen Kamara and Sam McQueen on the bench.
The Blues started the game brightly, pressing Coventry in to making mistakes at the back. Payne tried his luck on 9 minutes with a low shot, but Charles-Cook saved comfortably.
The visitors went close in the 16th minute, when Jim Brien tried a curling effort from just outside the area, which was neatly tipped over by Dan Bentley for a corner.
From the resulting set play, Romain Vincelot met Stephen Hunt’s ball to head wide.
But it was the home side who took in the lead on 24 minutes.
Stephen Hendrie closed down Coventry Captain Sam Ricketts’ clearance, which fell in to the path of Payne, who hit a sweet strike in to the bottom right-hand corner.
Phil Brown said before the game that his defence would have to show their metal against the pace of Coventry’s attack, and they rose to the challenge on 26’.
A well-worked Coventry counter involving Joe Cole and Marcus Tudgay sent through Hunt with some neat one-touch play. With seemingly only the keeper to beat, Luke O’Neill executed a superb tackle.
What a moment that proved to be, as Southend doubled their lead five minutes later.
Hendrie yet again a major factor; the West-Ham loanee picked the lock of the Sky Blues defence, putting through Barnett who sent the ball beyond Charles-Cook in to the back of the net.
What was a superb start, nearly got better, as Jack Payne continued to wreak havoc on Tony Mowbray’s men. The youngster sent a dangerous effort within a whisker from 18 yards on 33’.
Coventry had thought they had found a way back in to the match 5 minutes before the interval, as Tudgay barged Bentley to the floor before tapping in.
Rightly the referee gave the free-kick to Southend, and the hosts finished the half with a deserved 2-0 lead.
Half-Time: Southend United 2-0 Coventry City
As the Blues looked to control proceedings in the second-half, they didn’t make it easy for themselves as they were reduced to ten men on 51 minutes.
Deegan, booked earlier in the game, received his marching orders after fouling James Maddison in the middle of the pitch.
That meant play maker Payne had to be replaced, allowing Timlin to come on to put four back in to the midfield line-up.
With the one-man advantage, Mowbray looked to throw the kitchen sink at it, bringing all three of his permitted substitutions before the hour mark.
It was the home side who created the next clear opportunity, when Hendrie got ahead of his marker to stab a cross from the right towards goal. Charles-Cook got down well to keep his side in it.
A Maddison rasper had Bentley stretching on 64 minutes, but his effort from 20 yards whistled just past the post.
As the visitors pressed, they looked exposed at the back, and Will Atkinson ceased on that opportunity after being put clean though by Barnett.
With just Charles-Cook to out-master, Atkinson took the keeper on, and was sent tumbling in the box. No option for the referee, penalty.
Charles Cook, perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch, could do nothing to stop Barnett bagging a brace from the spot. The Blues were now three goals to the good on 72 minutes.
As the Sky Blues looked shell-shocked, the Blues of Southend looked hungry for more.
Hendrie, looking to cap off a fine performance with a goal, tried his luck with a pile-driver with less than 15 minutes to go. Charles-Cook on this occasion was well-matched to the strike.
Sam McQueen was brought in to the fold on 84’, making his debut in front of a bouncing Roots Hall crowd, who almost made up the one-man deficit themselves.
There was no breaking the resolve of the Southend back-line and the Blues saw the game out as comfortable victors.
Southend United: Bentley, O’Neill, Thompson, Barrett ©, Bolger, Hendrie, Leonard, Atkinson (McQueen 84’), Deegan, Payne (Timlin 58’), Barnett (Hunt 75’).
Subs: White, Timlin, Mooney, Smith, Hunt, McQueen, Kamara.
Booked: Deegan (44’) (51’),
Off: Deegan (51’) – Second bookable offence.
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Stokes, Vincelot (Antoine-Fortune 59’), O’Brien, Cole, Ricketts, Bigirimana, Tudgay (Maddison 45’), Ramage, Haynes (Lameiras 56’), Hunt.
Subs: Burge, Lameiras, Maddison, Lorentzson, Rose, Phillips, Antoine-Fortune.