Southend United progressed to the last-32 of the Checkatrade Trophy as goals from Josh Wright and Theo Robinson secured Blues a 2-0 home win against Essex rivals, Colchester United.
Blues began the game much the brighter of the two sides and Stephen McLaughlin will feel he was unfortunate not to open the scoring with two early efforts.
The Irishman first went close when he chested down the ball before shooting just wide on the half-volley, before going even closer minutes later with a free-kick that had Rene Gilmartin beaten.
McLaughlin’s fellow winger Jermaine McGlashan knows he should have done better when he was picked out by a cutback from Ryan Leonard only for the Blues number 17 to scoop the ball over.
The visitors knew that only a win would do if they were to advance but they showed little threat until Nicke Kabamba was slid through by Sanmi Odeluis, but his low ball cross was easily cut out.
Southend though looked much the bigger threat and should have taken the lead when Theo Robinson’s shot fell kindly to Nile Ranger, but the Blues striker couldn’t beat the sprawling Gilmartin.
Blues were getting closer with every attack and after Frankie Kent headed on a McLaughlin free-kick, Leonard couldn’t quite stretch far enough to divert the ball in at the far post, hitting the side netting.
The home side though did finally manage to break the deadlock before the half-time interval when Josh Wright opened his account for Southend with the simplest of finishes.
After McLaughlin’s stinging effort was palmed into the air by Gilmartin, the midfielder was left to easily nod the ball into the unguarded net to score his first goal for the club.
Southend were now in the driving seat to make the last 32 and could have all but cemented their place had Michael Timlin’s spectacular long-range effort not have been tipped over by Gilmartin.
With Timlin having gone close just before the break, Southend would put one foot in the next round shortly after the interval as Theo Robinson scored his second goal in the competition.
Robinson managed to beat one U’s defender to a bouncing ball before skipping past another, finishing off the move with a calm left-foot strike across Gilmartin and into the bottom corner.
Blues were now in cruise-control and they came close to making it three when Ranger appeared to have bundled the ball in after a scramble in the area only for Kent to get back and clear off the line.
Southend were cutting through Colchester at will it seemed and even John White managed to slide his way into the penalty area, hitting Gilmartin in the chest with his effort.
Blues had a chance to round off the night in style from the penalty spot late on following a foul by Kent on White, but substitute Simon Cox smashed the spot-kick against the foot of the post.
It wasn’t to matter though as Blues comfortably made it through but they’ll have make do with an away tie in the next round after Gillingham’s crazy 7-5 win against Reading saw them top the group.
Blues XI: Oxley, Turner (Ferdinand 70’), Timlin, McLaughlin, McGlashan, Leonard (C), Robinson (Ba 73’), Bwomono, Wright, White, Ranger (Cox 79’). Subs Not Used: Bishop, Hendrie, Kightly, Yearwood
Colchester United XI: Gilmartin, Kinsella, Lapslie (C), Kent, Kabamba, Eastman, Vincent-Young, O’Sullivan (Mandron 73’), Slater (Hanlan 81’), Odelusi, James (Szmodics 62’). Subs Not Used: Walker, Kpekwa, Comley, Inniss
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Simon Constantine Hatzidakis & Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Keith Stroud
Southend United: Josh Wright 37’, Theo Robinson 49’
Colchester United: None
Southend United: Simon Cox 85’
Colchester United: Frankie Kent 89’