Simon Cox’s first-half strike was enough for Blues to win 1-0 away at Walsall, their first win at the Banks’s Stadium for a decade and just their second win on the road this season.
The striker’s goal came after 17-minutes after Michael Kightly dispossessed James Wilson before seeing his low cross fall to Cox who smashed home from close range.
Walsall’s main threats came from Erhun Oztumer and Tyler Roberts and it was the latter of those who forced a couple of smart saves out of Mark Oxley in the first half.
With the home fans getting increasingly frustrated with their players as the second half wore out, Blues kept their nerve as to grab their second successive league win.
The win against the Saddlers was just rewards for a professional performance from Phil Brown’s side who had been poor on recent away trips to Doncaster Rovers and Wigan Athletic.
Both sides came into the game off the back of wins with Blues boss Phil Brown naming an unchanged line-up from their 1-0 victory at Roots Hall against Bury last Saturday.
Walsall themselves recorded a superb 3-0 win at Doncaster and boasted an unbeaten home record this season, however of their seven games at the Banks’s Stadium five had been drawn.
Southend’s form away from home had been suspect at best with just one win on their travels but after an opening 15 minutes where almost nothing happened, Blues managed to break the deadlock.
Michael Kightly dispossessed James Wilson before crossing low into the penalty area. Marc-Antoine Fortune’s dummy allowed the ball to fall to Simon Cox who smashed home from close range.
Blues were looking for their first win at the Banks’s Stadium since October 2007 but they were almost pegged back straight away after Joe Edwards’ shot was deflected into the path of Erhun Oztumer but the diminutive front-man couldn’t stretch enough to convert at the far post.
Along with Oztumer, Tyler Roberts looked a continuous threat for Walsall and he did well to create some space on the edge of the area for a shot only for his effort to be well held by Mark Oxley.
Both Oztumer and Roberts again threatened to equalise with Oztumer seeing his shot blocked before the ball fell to Roberts who forced a save from Oxley who had to parry away.
And the home side ended the half strongly as in the second minute of first-half injury time they broke away down the right with Edwards taking a stab at goal that was held easily by Oxley.
Blues came close to doubling their lead within 30 seconds of the restart when Fortune muscled his way into the area, but from a tight angle, the Frenchman couldn’t curl the ball into the far corner.
Southend’s bright start to the second half continued when Ryan Leonard carried the ball forward commandingly, teeing it up for Kightly whose shot was blocked from 15-yards out.
Tempers were beginning to flare amongst the home side who picked up three bookings in quick succession as the Walsall fans became audibly more and more frustrated with their side.
A second for Blues would have killed off any chance of Walsall snatching a point and Cox came close to wrapping up the win with a snapshot inside the error that was well held by Mark Gillespie.
In the final throws of the second half, Walsall pressed for an equaliser and Zeli Ismail’s flashed cross across the face of goal just didn’t get the final touch it required with Southend clearing.
Oztumer weaved his way into the penalty area and appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after John White blocked his shot, moments before Daniel Agyei forced Oxley into a fingertip save over the bar.
Five minutes of added time was signalled as the Saddlers threw everyone forward for an equaliser and in the final minute of stoppage time Edwards' deflected shot looked like it may have wrong-footed Oxley but he got back across to keep Blues' clean-sheet intact.
Walsall XI: Gillespie, Edwards, Leahy (Morris 67’), Guthrie, Chambers (C), Oztumer, Wilson (Ismail 79’), Kinsella, T Roberts, Bakayoko (Agyei 67’), Donnellan. Subs Not Used: L Roberts, Devlin, Jackson, K Roberts
Blues XI: Oxley, Wordsworth, Ferdinand (C), Kightly (McLaughlin 76’), Timlin, Fortune (Ranger 71’), Cox, Leonard, Demetriou, Wright, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Ba, Yearwood, Robinson, Bwomono
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistants: Oliver Bickle & Stephen Brown
Fourth Official: Darren Strain
Southend United: Simon Cox 17’
Walsall: Shaun Donnellan 55’, James Wilson 62’, Mark Gillespie 63’, Joe Edwards 79’
Southend United: Simon Cox 69’