Southend ended the year in defeat as Jordy Hiwula’s solitary goal secured Coventry City a 1-0 win against Blues at the Ricoh Arena.
After a goalless first-half in which Coventry had had the better of the chances, with Conor Chaplin looking the most threatening, Hiwula broke the deadlock early after the interval.
Tom Bayliss’ precision ball found the run of the Coventry striker who calmly slotted the ball beyond the advancing Nathan Bishop to give the Sky Blues the lead after 55 minutes.
Southend pushed hard for an equaliser and their best chance fell to Simon Cox with less than 10 minutes remaining, with the striker prodding the ball beyond Lee Burge but off target.
The defeat for Blues continued their pattern of one win followed by one defeat with Chris Powell’s side failing to build on their Boxing Day win against Oxford United.
Following on from that win at Oxford, Blues travelled to the Ricoh looking for their first back-to-back league wins since September and they were up against a Coventry side who were level on points with them after 24 games.
Chris Powell made just the one change from the team that won at the Kassam, with defender John White replacing Michael Turner, and the Southend boss would have been buoyed by the return of Harry Bunn who took his place on the bench having missed the last three games.
Coventry were the victors in the reverse fixture back in October but it was the Blues that began brightly at the Ricoh Arena and Chris Powell’s side went close midway through the first-half when White, under pressure, headed over Sam Mantom’s corner from close range.
The Sky Blues ended a seven-game winless run with a last-gasp victory against Charlton on Boxing Day and they went close to opening the scoring when Dujon Sterling’s superb cross found the head of Conor Chaplin whose header was deflected wide for a corner.
Chaplin looked like Coventry’s main threat up-front and twice more he went close to breaking the deadlock, first volleying a Zain Westbrooke free-kick wide from close range before breaking through two Southend defenders to curl just wide as it remained goalless at the interval.
It wouldn’t take Mark Robins’ side long though after the break to go in front as Tom Bayliss’ defence-splitting pass found the run of Jordy Hiwula perfectly, leaving the striker to slide the ball underneath Nathan Bishop to give Coventry the lead inside the hour mark.
Southend were struggling to create anything in attack and Coventry could have sealed the points with less than 20 minutes remaining when substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris’ acrobatic effort was blocked on the line by Stephen Hendrie.
Powell introduced some freshness to the side by bringing on youngster Isaac Hutchinson as well as Stephen McLaughlin and the Irishman had a half-shout for a penalty waved off when his strike hit a Coventry defender in the area with referee Kevin Johnson unmoved.
But Southend’s best chance came with a little less than 10 minutes remaining when Mantom’s dinked ball into the area found the run of Simon Cox who’d timed his run to perfection, taking one touch to set himself before prodding his shot wide from inside the six-yard box.
The travelling Blues fans were lifted when the fourth official indicated eight additional minutes at the end of the game as Southend pressed for an equaliser but it was to no avail as Coventry completed a league double over Blues and leapfrogged them in the table.
Coventry City XI: Burge, Mason (McCallum 82’), Willis, Kelly (C), Chaplin, Hiwula, Hyam, Sterling, Bayliss, Westbrooke (Doyle 83’), Shipley (Clarke-Harris 62’). Subs Not Used: Addai, Grimmer, Davies, Andreu
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Kightly (Hutchinson 73’), Dieng, Cox, Yearwood (McLaughlin 73’), Mantom (C), Moore, Robinson, Hendrie (Bunn 83’), White. Subs Not Used: Smith, Turner, McCoulsky, Clifford
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistants: Danny Gratton & Richard Wild
Fourth Official: Ian Dudley
Coventry City: Jordy Hiwula 55’
Southend United: None
Coventry City: Conor Chaplin 90+8’
Southend United: Michael Kightly 48’, Timothee Dieng 50’, Stephen McLaughlin 90+8'
Attendance: 11,395 (735 Away)