Southend’s miserable form continued as they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Northampton Town at Sixfields.
Blues were incredibly unfortunate to go behind when Harry Krypianou’s attempted clearance ricocheted off John-Joe O’Toole and into the bottom corner midway through the first-half.
Southend weren’t behind for long though as a penalty awarded for a foul by Ash Taylor on Stephen McLaughlin saw Jason Demetriou score from the spot to send the two sides into the break level.
The home side were then awarded a penalty of their own early in the second-half for a foul by Kyprianou on Chris Long, allowing Grimes to power the home side back in front.
And as Southend pushed for an equaliser they were caught on the break by the Cobblers as Alex Revell put the finishing touch on a counter-attack to secure the points.
The defeat was Blues’ third in a row and, with the exception of the Boxing Day win against Charlton, the rest of their last eight matches in all competitions have ended in defeat.
For Northampton it was a much needed three points and only their third win in their last 11 in the league which saw them close the gap between them and safety.
Following the New Year’s Day defeat to AFC Wimbledon, Phil Brown made two changes to his Blues side in an attempt to halt Southend’s alarming slide down the table.
Both changes were enforced as Stephen McLaughlin came in for the Sheffield United bound Ryan Leonard, with John White unable to shake off an injury, being replaced by Michael Turner.
Northampton themselves were in serious danger, sitting inside the relegation zone after just two wins in their last 10 so both the Cobblers and Blues were in desperate need of three points.
Neither side created anything noteworthy in the first 15 minutes with Stephen McLaughlin’s speculative effort from almost the half-way line the best either side could muster.
But when your luck’s not in, it’s not in, and midway through the first-half Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side would take the lead in the most fortunate of circumstances.
Seconds after a superb save from Mark Oxley prevented Ash Taylor’s header from opening the scoring, Harry Kyprianou attempted to clear only to see the ball cannon off John-Joe O’Toole and ricochet past Oxley and into the bottom corner to put the home side in front.
It was a desperately unlucky way for Blues to go behind but they had the chance to level matters just a few minutes later when a clash between Taylor and Stephen McLaughlin resulted in a penalty.
Both players went for a bouncing ball with McLaughlin getting there first before being cleaned out by Taylor leaving Demetriou to send Matt Ingram the wrong way from the spot to equalise.
The leveller had lit a fire underneath Southend who began pressing for a second and Michael Kightly went close for Blues when he cut onto his right foot before shooting just wide from 15-yards out.
Southend were unable to break through again before the break and within five minutes of the interval they were behind once again as Northampton were awarded a penalty of their own.
Kyprianou was having a miserable afternoon after seeing his clearance result in Cobblers’ opener and he was then adjudged to have upended Chris Long in the area for the spot kick.
Matt Grimes stepped up to take the penalty and, despite going the right way, the power of the strike beat the dive of Oxley to put the home side back in front.
It was the worst possible start to the second half for Blues and it could have been worse had Regan Poole managed to convert either of Grimes’ set-pieces into the area before the hour.
And Northampton really should have had breathing room when they broke away down the right with debutante Hildeberto Pereira smacking the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Southend were well and truly under the cosh and only a superb tackle from Michael Turner stopped Long getting on the end of a Sam Hoskins cross as Northampton continued to press.
Brown threw on Michael Timlin, Jermaine McGlashan and youngster Norman Wabo to try and turn the tide and the visitors carved out a couple of half in their search for an equaliser.
Anthony Wordsworth’s shot at the second attempt flashed past Ingram’s post before Kyprianou’s low effort from a Blues corner was diverted away by a brilliant block.
In the final moments, Blues threw everything they could at Northampton but were caught on the counter-attack by the home side as they scored a third in the final minute of normal time.
Pereira stormed down the right before playing substitute Alex Revell who cut onto his right and stroked the ball across Oxley and into the bottom corner to wrap up the points.
Northampton Town XI: Ingram, Buchanan (C), Taylor, Foley (Pereira 64’), Hoskins, Long (Revell 87’), O’Toole, Crooks, Facey (Moloney 90+1’), Poole, Grimes. Subs Not Used: Cornell, Waters, Richards, McWilliams
Blues XI: Oxley, Coker, Wordsworth, Turner (C), Kightly (McGlashan 61’), Fortune, Cox (Wabo 74’), McLaughlin, Yearwood (Timlin 61’), Demetriou, Kyprianou. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Ba, Robinson, Bwomono
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Assistants: Stuart Butler & Marvyn Amphlett
Fourth Official: Joe Clark
Northampton Town: John-Joe O’Toole 19’, Matt Grimes (p)49’, Alex Revell 90’
Southend United: Jason Demetriou (p)26’
Northampton Town: Matt Crooks 84’
Southend United: None