Southend United continued to build their pre-season fitness as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against League Two side Gillingham at Roots Hall this afternoon.
The Gills, managed by former Blues player Neil Harris, subdued Kevin Maher’s team to their first pre-season defeat, scoring the only goal of the game in the 56th minute with Mikael Mandron on target.
Blues started the game on the front foot, Sam Dalby headed over 10 minutes in as Blues worked at a good tempo to stretch the Gills.
Five minutes later, Callum Powell was denied by the trailing foot of a scrambling Gills man, as his low, driven effort was blocked off the line.
Against the run of play, Gills were excellently kept out by Ollie Kensdale, as the 22-year-old diverted Jordan Green’s shot off the line and to safety.
Moments later, Neil Harris’ side again went close, with Steve Arnold salvaging the ball from the feet of Scott Kashket after the striker hit the post in a goalmouth scramble.
The drinks break halted the fast-paced nature of the first half, but Blues came close shortly before the break, with Oli Coker denied a deadlock-breaking goal with his effort well saved by Jake Turner.
It was the League Two side who opened the scoring, however, 11 minutes after half time.
A quick exchange on the left-wing resulted with Kashket floating a cross in to Mandron, who squeezed a header past the Trialist goalkeeper.
Former Southend winger Green had an effort bounce off the post shortly after, as Maher’s side struggled to regain the quality they showed in the opening stages of the match.
Wholesale changes saw Blues finish the game with every starting player bar Powell being substituted, Maher’s youthful outfit finished the game strongly, without managing to threaten the visitors with an equaliser.
Southend United: Arnold (Trialist 45’), Ralph (Crowhurst 78’), Hobson (Reeve 78’), Kensdale (Davis 78’), Dalby (Bridge 70’), Powell, Clifford (Arrowsmith 78’), Miley (Taylor 70’), Fonguck (Husin 70’), Demetriou (Wood 78’), Coker (59’).
Gillingham: Turner, Tutonda (Law 45’), Wright, Ehmer, Williams, Mandron (Gbode 70’), Reeves (Lee 70’), Jeffries, Green (Alexander 83’), Baggot, Kashket.
Southend United: None
Gillingham: Mandron (56’)