Southend’s unbeaten home league record has ended thanks to Charlie Wyke’s injury-time penalty which secured Bradford a 2-1 win at Roots Hall.
The visitors came to Southend with an imperious away record and started the brighter of the two sides, making the most of their start with Dominic Poleon putting them in front early on.
Blues were much improved in the second half and pressed for an equaliser with Nile Ranger getting in front of Stephen McLaughlin to head Southend level with 15 minutes to go.
But in the final moments of the match, Ryan Leonard brought down Nicky Law in the area, allowing Charlie Wyke to smash home the winner as Leonard was shown a second yellow card.
Boss Phil Brown was also sent to the stands after protesting the decision as Southend tasted defeat at Roots Hall for the first time this season in the league.
Despite a spirited second-half display, it was a third successive defeat for Blues, who now face a testing trip to Scunthorpe before back-to-back home games against Charlton and Shrewsbury.
Following last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Bristol Rovers, Blues boss Phil Brown had some harsh words to say about his side who had been soundly beaten 3-0.
Brown threatened to make a raft of changes following that defeat but settled with the four changes with Ben Coker making a surprise return to the starting line-up.
The visitors held an envious away record this season with seven wins from their 10 league trips away from Valley Parade, including wins away at the top two in Wigan and Shrewsbury.
Stuart McCall’s side began looking like a side that was confident on their travels and a mazy run from Alex Gilliead ended with Dominic Poleon being slipped in, forcing a good save out of Mark Oxley.
From the resulting corner, Oxley was required again to scoop wide a near-post effort from Tyrell Robinson as the Bantams started the brighter of the two sides.
And their bright start was rewarded inside the first 10-minutes when a neat move between Charlie Wyke and Nicky Law saw Law get goal-side, picking out Poleon with a low cross for a tap-in.
Bradford had now opened the scoring in each of their 11 away games this season and were looking good for their one-goal lead as Southend’s unbeaten home record looked under serious threat.
Blues had struggled to get a foothold in the game but midway through the first-half, they carved out two chances in quick succession which came close to bringing them back level.
Anthony Wordsworth had the best of the two chances when he was found completely unmarked inside the penalty area by a Stephen McLaughlin cross, only to head straight at Rouven Sattelmaier.
Moments later and Sattelmaier looked to be beaten by a McLaughlin strike that took a wicked deflection off Tony McMahon, but the deflection had enough on it to send the shot wide.
Southend started the second half on the front-foot with Nile Ranger barrelling his way into the Bantams area before seeing his shot blocked by a last-ditch Matthew Kilgallon challenge.
Blues continued to push forward for an equaliser and Jason Demetriou’s header across goal fell almost fell kindly for Wordsworth inside the box but the midfielder couldn’t dig out a strike.
The pressure was beginning to mount on the visitors with a Ryan Leonard strike that was easily held by Sattelmaier before Blues won a succession of corners which they couldn’t capitalise on.
Southend though would get the equaliser that their second-half display had richly deserved as Ranger headed Blues level with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Substitute Jermaine McGlashan found space on the right-side to send a deep cross toward the far post. McLaughlin and Ranger both went for the ball, with Ranger getting the decisive touch to squeeze the ball inside the post.
Bradford had paid the price for sitting back on their half-time lead but the equaliser forced them to come back out and Charlie Wyke thought he’d restored Bradford’s lead from a corner when his header on goal had to be cleared off the line by Demetriou.
The visitors though would come away though with all three points when Nicky Law got the wrong side of the Blues back-line before being brought down by Leonard in the penalty area.
Having been booked earlier in the half, Leonard was given his marching orders for the foul and Wyke smashed his spot-kick straight down the middle and win Bradford the points.
In the aftermath of the goal, Phil Brown was sent to the stands by referee Keith Stroud for his protests against the penalty decision to compound a miserable afternoon for Blues.
And in the final seconds of injury time, Bradford were denied a third by a superb save from Oxley which stopped Shay McCartan’s strike from adding gloss to the scoreline, but the Bantams had done enough to end Southend’s unbeaten home record.
Blues XI: Oxley, Coker, Wordsworth (Fortune 63’), Turner, Timlin (McGlashan 69’), McLaughlin, Leonard (C), Demetriou, Wright, White, Ranger (Ba 86’). Subs Not Used: Bishop, Yearwood, Kyrpianou, Wabo
Bradford City XI: Sattelmaier, Kilgallon, Vincelot (C), Law, Wyke, Taylor (Reeves 46’), Poleon (McCartan 76’), Knight-Percival (Thompson 59’), McMahon, Robinson. Subs Not Used: Raeder, Dieng, McCartan, Hendrie, Patrick
Referee: Keith Stroud
Assistants: Matt Foley & John Flynn
Fourth Official: Paul Harris
Southend United: Nile Ranger 75’
Bradford City: Dominic Poleon 9’, Charlie Wyke (p)90’
Southend United: Josh Wright 41’, Nile Ranger 47’, Ryan Leonard 74’
Bradford City: Nathaniel Knight-Percival 55’, Dominic Poleon 74’, Tony McMahon 90+1’
Southend United: Ryan Leonard 89’
Bradford City: None