Oxford United recorded their first win under new boss Karl Robinson as a disappointing afternoon for Blues ended with a 2-0 defeat at the Kassam Stadium.
It was a nightmare of a first-half that killed it for Chris Powell’s side who went behind in just the sixth minute when James Henry found the net after Ryan Ledson had been denied.
Southend then lost two defenders in quick succession with both Ben Coker and Michael Turner going off injured and Blues’ reshuffled back-line conceded a second before the break through Ricardinho.
Dru Yearwood hit the post just before the interval and Simon Cox was denied by a superb reaction save from Simon Eastwood in the second-half but Blues were unable to break down the home side as Southend failed to score for the third successive game on the road.
The win for Oxford sees Karl Robinson pick up his first maximum since taking over as Yellows boss last month while also ending Oxford’s 10-game winless run against Southend in all competitions.
Defeat for Chris Powell’s side meant Southend’s miserable away form continued with only League Two-bound Bury having a worse record on the road this season.
Having played so well away at promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers last weekend, Powell will have been disappointed to see such a contrast in performance just seven days later.
Powell was made to make one enforced change following that defeat to Blackburn with Anthony Wordsworth coming in to replace Sam Mantom who picked up a thigh injury in training on Friday.
Oxford themselves were coming into this game off the back of a 1-0 defeat – at home to Fleetwood – and they made two changes with Jon Obika and James Henry coming in, and it was the latter who gave the home side an early lead.
Seconds after Ryan Ledson felt his far-post header had crossed the line, Henry picked up the ball inside the penalty area before shooting across the face of Mark Oxley and hitting the back of the net with less than six minutes showing on the clock.
Blues responded well to going behind but were dealt a double blow within the space of a couple of minutes as both Ben Coker and Michael Turner were forced off with injuries before half an hour had even been played, with Elvis Bwomono and Anton Ferdinand coming on.
And Southend’s reshuffled back-line were immediately put to the test as the home side won back-to-back corners. The first saw Rob Dickie’s far-post header parried away by Oxley before John Mousinho hit the side netting from a tight angle.
It looked like it would remain 1-0 at the interval but Karl Robinson’s side doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Obika teed up the run of Ricardinho whose shot was deflected through the legs of Oxley to give the home side a two-goal advantage.
It had been a nightmare of a first-half for the visitors and not even Dru Yearwood’s curling effort could lift Southend before the interval as he saw his strike come off the inside of the post to ensure the deficit remained at two.
September against Fleetwood was the last time Blues scored a second-half goal away from home and it looked like they were going to be shut out again when Jason Demetriou’s cut-back found Simon Cox, only for the striker to be denied by a superb reaction save from Eastwood.
Southend had no choice but to break that scoring duck if they were to salvage anything from the Kassam but they almost fell further behind when Dickie’s header was saved by Oxley before Mousinho struck the foot of the post with the rebound.
Cox went close to making it a nervy finish for the home side with a scissor kick that flew over the crossbar and Shayon Harrison, brought on as a sub for Michael Kightly, forced a save from Eastwood in injury time but it was Oxford who deservedly took the three points.
Oxford United XI: Eastwood, Ledson, Thomas (van Kessel 87’), Brannagan, Dickie, Henry (Mehmeti 90+2’), Kane, Obika, Ricardinho, Mowatt (Nelson 79’), Mousinho (C). Subs Not Used: Shearer, Martin, Carroll, Napa
Blues XI: Oxley, Coker (C)(Bwomono 25’), Wordsworth, Turner (Ferdinand 29’), Kightly (Harrison 65’), Timlin, Cox, McLaughlin, Yearwood, Demetriou, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Ladapo, Robinson, Wright
Referee: Darren Handley
Assistants: Ben Cobb & Lisa Rashid
Fourth Official: Matt Foley
Oxford United: James Henry 6’, Ricardinho 45+2’
Southend United: None
Oxford United: Rob Dickie 17’, Ryan Ledson 53’, Alex Mowatt 77’
Southend United: None