We take a look back at the 15/16 SeasonApril began with a trip to the seaside with Blackpool the opponents at Bloomfield Road.
As summer approached it was by no means a sun-filled occasion at the home of the struggling tangerines, more a rain filled trudge on a sodden pitch that had seen better days.
It was no surprise that the home side coped better with the conditions, but Blues were kicking themselves that they weren’t ahead at the break after Jamar Loza missed a guilt-edged chance by striking the post from close-range.
Southend were made to pay as Mark Cullen’s header gave Blackpool the lead after a goalless first half and Jacob Blyth wrapped things up for the home side with an emphatic close range finish.
The result was a big blow to Blues’ Play-Off hopes as the gap between themselves and the top-six stretched to eight points with six left to play.
Phil Brown’s men could not afford to drop many more points before the end of the season if the promotion hopes were to be kept alive. Next up was another difficult task of facing another side scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the table, right in the midst of the Business End of the season.
Steven Pressley brought his Fleetwood Town side to Roots Hall and took part in a four-goal face-off at HQ.
After a 45-minute stalemate, the pace didn’t really pick up in the early moments of the second half until the 53rd minute when Town took the lead through Bobby Grant.
Conor McLaughlin played the ball from just in front on the dugouts into the striker in a central position, and he took aim from 30 yards, beating Dan Bentley with some swerve to take it away from the Southend goalkeeper and into the left hand corner of the net.
Blues livened up 25 minutes into the second half as Jack Payne stole a march on his marker to reach David Worrall’s cross which was deflected behind for a corner, and from that Blues levelled things up.
Stephen McLaughlin’s corner from the right was nodded home by Adam Barrett, not for the first time in his Southend career, in front of the Hi-Tec South Stand.
With ten minutes to go, Blues completed the turn around with a brilliantly taken goal from the in-form Payne.
Initially, substitute Sam McQueen had just missed his header from Payne’s corner, but Myles Weston kept the ball alive on the other side. He played the ball to Gary Deegan on the edge of the area, who looked like shooting himself before deciding to play it back out to Payne on the right-hand side and from there the little man cut in and found the near post.
When it looked like Blues had bagged a priceless victory as the game entered four minutes’ stoppage time, Fleetwood equalised when Conor McLaughlin pounced at the far post from a left-wing cross and the spoils were shared.
Next up was high flying Walsall, and Southend fell to a cruel late defeat at Banks’s Stadium as Jordy Hiwula gave the Saddlers all three points with an 88th minute winner.
Blues denied Walsall superbly for large parts of the game with Bentley in the form of his life in goal, and had chances to win it themselves though they ended up going home empty handed.
The play-off hopes were mathematically ended after Southend were defeated 1-0 by Oldham Athletic at Roots Hall on Tuesday evening.
A Curtis Main strike midway through the second half was enough to give the Latics all three points and condemn Blues to back-to-back defeats.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to secure a top-six finish, it had been a solid first campaign back in the third-tier for Phil Brown’s men.
Trying to finish the season on a high, Southend travelled to eventual Champions Wigan who were on the cusp of securing an immediate return to the Championship at the time.
It was a forgetful afternoon for the Blues as they went down 4-1 to the Latics. The home side raced into a three-goal lead before the interval with the man on fire, Will Grigg bagging a brace.
Wigan made it four after the break before Blues claimed a consolation on 74 minutes as Craig Morgan turned into his own net.
Southend’s final home game of the season saw them come against promotion hopefuls, Bradford City, and the Bantams came away 1-0 winners.
Lee Evans’ early goal was enough to settle the encounter, but Blues had some late chances to earn a draw which didn’t materialise on a frustrating afternoon.
The highlight of the game was a first team debut for academy graduate Jack Bridge who came on as a second half substitute.
Bridge, who started the final game of the season at Bury will be looking ahead to the 2016/17 campaign as an opportunity to stake a claim to play a part in Phil Brown’s plans.
The final game also handed a second debut to Franck Moussa after the Belgian joined the club on non-contract terms earlier in the season.
It wasn’t to be a winning finale though as Southend fell to a 3-2 defeat at the JD Stadium as a late Ryan Lowe penalty gave the Shakers all three points.
Blues had taken the lead through Moussa, and once again through David Mooney after a Barrett own goal had levelled things up.
But a double from Lowe, the second of which came from the spot after Sam McQueen was adjudged to have handled in second half stoppage time, handed the Blues a final day loss.
Southend will now look to build on their first season back in League One as they prepare to go again in 2016/17!
Up the Blues!