Southend United fell to a 3-0 defeat to Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena in Sky Bet League One.
Following the Blues 1-0 win against Leyton Orient on Tuesday night in the Checkatrade Trophy Phil Brown decided to make 5 changes for the away trip to the Crown Oil Arena switching to a 3-4-3 formation with the likes of summer signing Anton Ferdinand coming into the side looking to sure up the Blues shaky defensive record on the road.
However, despite an assuring start from Southend, the Blues conceded in the 18th minute as Adam Barrett bundled over Calvin Andrew around the right hand corner of the box, just outside the penalty area, and from the resulting free kick Joe Bunney curled an inch perfect cross in towards the back post for an unmarked Niall Canavan to put a bullet header past a helpless Mark Oxley.
The Blues thought that they had scored a quick-fire equaliser with David Mooney as he rifled the ball into the roof of the net past Josh Lillis from around 10 yards out after being put through one on one, however, he was flagged offside; This would typify the first half attacking performance of the blues, as the final ball was often lacking in the final third throughout the half.
Rochdale soon added to their lead, despite some heroic defending by Southend skipper Adam Barrett to prevent Calvin Andrew’s initial attempt at goal and then blocking a thumping volley by Nathaniel Mendez Laing, but he could do nothing to prevent the third attempt at goal in quick succession as the ball broke back out wide to the right hand side and Joe Rafferty crossed in an inviting ball which Calvin Andrew met with his head, as he towered over the Blues defence to head the ball firmly into the bottom right hand corner to make it 2-0 to Rochdale after little over 25 minutes.
Rochdale came close to further extending their lead with 16-year-old Aaron Morley as he had a low drive towards the bottom left corner tipped around the post by Mark Oxley, and but for a goal line clearance from Ryan Inniss from Nathaniel Mendez Laing’s powerful run and drilled cross across the box from the left hand side the score line going into half time would’ve looked insurmountable.
The Blues started the second half similarly to the first, as they had promising spells of possession, however, they lacked the cutting edge to really create any clear cut chances, as Rochdale again posed a big threat on the break especially with Nathaniel Mendez Laing down the left hand side causing Luke O’Neill all sorts of problems with his powerful runs, as early in the second half he drove a low cross towards the back post towards Calvin Andrew, however the cross eluded the Rochdale striker.
Dale thought that they had added a third goal as Aaron Morley took a speculative effort from 25 yards out, but his shot missed the top right hand corner by a whisker and hit the station behind the goal, which deceived most of the home crowd as they though that the teenager had scored his first senior league goal for the club.
Southend continued to push forward as Marc Antoine Fortune was slotted through down a channel on the left hand side in between Joe Rafferty and Niall Canavan, however, from an awkward angle the French striker blasted the ball high and wide into the home crowd. This was then followed by a tame effort by second half sub Nile Ranger which was headed straight into Josh Lillis’ arms. However, Ranger nearly halved the deficit with another header, putting his second effort just wide of the right hand post following some good work by Ryan Leonard from the left hand side.
A poor afternoon for the Blues was then rounded off as they were caught cold on the counter attack as Steven Davies who was on the half way line slotted the ball through to Nathaniel Mendez Laing who had evaded the attention of the Southend defence, and the Rochdale winger kept his composure as he cut inside and struck the ball beyond the out rushing Mark Oxley in the Blues goal to make it 3-0 to Rochdale.
The game at the Crown Oil Arena was another disappointing afternoon on the road for the Blues who will certainly be looking to bounce back in their next fixture at Roots Hall against Chesterfield next Saturday.