Play-offs for Blues after defeat to Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
Blues dominated at the Globe Arena, but felt the full force of Morecambe’s counter-attack, setting up a play-off semi-final meeting with Stevenage.
Phil Brown made one change to the team to face Morecambe, as Jake Cassidy was benched following a week of illness. Jack Payne was the replacement for Cassidy on an overcast afternoon at the Globe Arena.
Payne broke free down the right-hand side in just the first minute of the game, but his low ball was eventually cut-out by the Shrimps defence.
Ben Coker then reacted superbly to flick the ball away from the lingering Alex Kenyon at the far post.
In a frantic opening to the game, Morecambe flew into the lead after just five minutes when Jack Redshaw arrived at the far post to smack a half-volley past Dan Bentley in the Southend goal.
David Worrall looked to send Southend level when he nodded the ball back across the penalty area, but the onrushing yellow shirts were unable to make any contact.
Blues trailed for just four minutes, with Michael Timlin releasing Worrall on the left flank. The Southend winger beat his man before cutting a low ball back to Payne, whose side-footed attempt bounced into the back of the net.
The goal sparked an eruption of noise from the away end, as 2,223 travelling fans from Southend went wild.
Adam Barrett came to the rescue in the 13th minute, when Redshaw found space on the right and slammed a low ball at the far corner of goal. The shot from Redshaw was goal-bound, but a sliding block from Barrett enabled Blues to clear the danger.
Redshaw continued to prove a thorn in Southend’s side, this time showing some quick footwork to find Aaron Wildig, whose curling effort flashed just over Bentley’s goal.
Gary Deegan was the first name in the book of the referee, when his late challenge on Wildig in the centre of the park saw play stopped.
Just after the half-hour mark, a marauding run from Ryan Leonard culminated in the Southend captain fizzing a fierce attempt just inches over the goal of Andreas Arestidou.
Leonard was causing problems to the Shrimps again just moments later, racing down the right flank and firing a ball across the face of the six-yard box, but with too much power for his teammates.
Worrall required some treatment in the 40th minute as he continued to trouble the Morecambe defence, before Corr had the final chance of the first half.
Leonard floated a ball back across the penalty area, with Barrett leaving the ball for Corr, but Arestidou pulled off a save and held onto the ball.
Southend started the second half in an equally fast-paced and intense fashion, with Timlin looking to score within the first minute, only for Arestidou to fall on his tame effort.
Payne could’ve had a second goal when his dinked ball to the back post almost found its way into the net. The ball appeared to be looping in past Arestidou, only for the Morecambe stopper to claw the ball out of the goalmouth.
The second half appeared to be falling the same pattern as the first, as Blues fell behind once again despite making the stronger start to the half.
Wildig snuck in on the left side of the penalty and poked the ball towards goal, with the ball deflecting off Bentley and going in after Coker’s clearance thundered in off the underside of the bar.
Morecambe could have been out of sight by the 57th minute, when Kevin Ellison rose highest to thump a header against the crossbar.
Blues continued to have the larger share of possession, probing and looking for an opening.
Phil Brown made his first change of the afternoon in the 60th minute, as Kevan Hurst replaced Will Atkinson.
Brown’s second change followed four minutes later, with John White replacing Gary Deegan, who was on a yellow card from the first half.
Payne went close again, first firing a powerful effort that drew a save from Arestidou. His second attempt deflected into the path of Hurst, whose side-footed attempt with his left foot was cleared off the line.
The Shrimps hit Blues on the counter and snatched a third goal in the 66th minute, when some good passing play saw Redshaw slot Jamie Devitt in, with the Morecambe man finishing to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
The home side then handed a farewell appearance to Stewart Drummond, as he replaced Andy Fleming.
Morecambe boss Jim Bentley withdrew goalscorer Devitt with 16 minutes remaining, sending on Paul Mullin in his place.
Pigott was twisting and turning twelve yards from goal with just 12 minutes remaining, but his lifted attempt dropped just wide of the far post.
Morecambe substitute Mullin almost added a fourth with eight minutes of play remaining, when he let fly from all of twenty-five yards. His attempt flew wide of goal, before Morecambe made their final change, with Aaron McGowan replacing Redshaw.
Corr almost pulled one back for Southend in the 88th minute, but his powerful low attempt was too close to Arestidou, who parried the attempt before it was cleared.
Morecambe stormed straight to the other end and almost had a fourth when Kevin Ellison got in behind, but his low attempt across goal was flicked away from the net by Barrett.
There were to be six added minutes, as Blues looked to turn ball possession into goals.
Payne continued to turn in a tireless performance, wriggling free in the area and firing at goal, winning a corner in the process.
Morecambe cleared the danger as the full-time whistle went, meaning that Blues will now face Stevenage in the play-offs after finishing 5th in League Two.
SOUTHEND UNITED: Bentley; Leonard, Bolger, Barrett, Coker (Pigott - 71’); Atkinson (Hurst - 60’), Deegan (White - 64’), Timlin, Worrall; Payne; Corr.
Unused Subs: T. Smith, Weston, McLaughlin, Cassidy.