Goals from Bolger and McLaughlin see Blues win, as Bentley breaks record.
Cian Bolger’s thundering header and Stephen McLaughlin's first goal for Blues banked a fourth straight win in League Two on Tuesday evening.
Phil Brown made one change from the side that won at the weekend against Tranmere Rovers, with Barry Corr dropping to the bench as Joe Pigott was recalled to the starting eleven.
Southend started with gusto and could have been in front after just two minutes, had some good defending not blocked Pigott’s attempt after an inviting ball in from Stephen McLaughlin.
John White then whipped a ball in to the penalty area, before Gary Deegan dragged a low shot wide of goal after the ball broke for the midfielder.
Newport looked to attack Blues and showed their intent in just the 5th minute of the game, when Andy Sandell let fly from 25 yards - forcing Dan Bentley to parry the dipping ball away from goal.
Blues skipper White then marauded forward from right-back, smashing a rising attempt off the outside of the right-hand post of the visitors’ goal.
Newport keeper Joe Day then pulled off an incredible save, clawing the ball away after a looping volley from Will Atkinson.
Atkinson tested Day just moments later, this time with a powerful low effort from the edge of the area, forcing the Exiles goalkeeper to turn the ball away for a corner.
With Blues looking to break the deadlock, it looked as if Pigott was set to convert after a lifted ball in from McLaughlin, but the Charlton Athletic loanee was stretching as he skied his effort.
Newport right-back Ryan Jackson cut inside and drove at goal before powering an effort at Bentley, but failed to particularly trouble the Blues stopper.
McLaughlin continued to trouble Newport’s right side, teeing himself up for an acrobatic bicycle kick, which was flicked over the goal by an onrushing Jake Cassidy.
A ball in from deep by White was only cleared as far as Michael Timlin, with Day gathering the low attempt.
Blues broke the deadlock with the final act of the first half, when an out-swinging corner from Atkinson found Bolger. The onrushing Irish defender thundered a header past the helpless Day.
Blues started the second half strongly, and doubled their advantage just five minutes into the second period at Roots Hall.
McLaughlin was put in when Deegan played the winger into space with a pass using the outside of his right foot. After taking a touch to pull away from the Newport defender, he fired a low effort past Day.
Newport County boss Jimmy Dack then sent on David Tutonda in place of Max Porter, before introducing Chris Zebroski in place of Shaun Jeffers.
The visitors had used all of their subs by the 59th minute, with Kevin Feely replacing the injured Ismail Yakubu.
Some intricate inter-play between McLaughlin and Adam Barrett then enabled Pigott to get a sight of goal, but his attempt deflected behind for a corner.
Newport substitute Tutonda then had an effort glance the crossbar, before Blues cleared the danger.
Adam Chapman then fired a low attempt just wide of Bentley’s goal as the Southend stopper’s net lived an increasingly charmed life.
Bentley needed to make it to the 67th minute to break the clean sheet record set by Mervyn Cawston, and did so - despite a late scare.
After the ball looped up, sparking a melee, Aaron O’Connor rose to head the ball against Bentley’s post before Ben Coker cleared the danger.
Coker’s clearance ensured that Bentley broke Cawston’s 34-year record, before David Worrall and Ryan Leonard came on in place of McLaughlin and Atkinson with 20 minutes remaining.
It was almost three in the 77th minute, when a ball from Leonard into the channel found the advancing Cassidy. The Wolves loanee looked to pick out Pigott with a ball across the face of goal, but Jackson raced back for the visitors and put his body on the line to keep the score to two-nil.
Jerome Binnom-Williams then replaced Blues captain White, who was forced off injured with ten minutes remaining.
Tutonda charged at the Southend goal in the 89th minute, running into space before bending an effort that had Bentley at full-stretch - despite failing to find the target.
Fourth official Darren Blunden indicated an unanticipated minimum of eight minutes of injury time, with the visitors beginning to increase their share of possession.
Southend saw out the final minutes with little difficulty, making it four straight wins in League Two.
SOUTHEND UNITED: Bentley; White (Binnom-Williams - 80’), Bolger, Barrett, Coker; Atkinson (Leonard - 70), Deegan, Timlin, McLaughlin (Worrall - 70’); Cassidy, Pigott.
Unused Subs: T. Smith, Payne, Hurst, Corr.