Southend United’s 2018 began in disappointing fashion as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
The home side took the lead just before the half-hour mark when a short free-kick was headed towards goal by Lyle Taylor with Liam Trotter following up to score from the rebound.
Southend then found themselves two down early in the second half when Deji Oshilaja headed towards goal with Tom Soares getting the vital touch to bundle the ball over the line.
Blues failed to really trouble the Dons after going two behind with Simon Cox’s free-header midway through the second half the best Southend could muster.
But the damage had already been done as far as Phil Brown’s side were concerned as Southend’s poor form continued with their sixth defeat in their last seven outings.
The win also meant it was the first time the Dons had beaten Southend at home since their reformation in 2002 to make for a miserable start to 2018 for Blues.
It was far from the start to the New Year that Phil Brown was looking for after a difficult festive period which included a 2-1 defeat to Shrewsbury on Saturday.
With both sides facing their fourth game in 10 days, it was no surprise that both Phil Brown and Neal Ardley rotated their teams from Saturday with both managers making five changes.
The surprise team news from Blues was the return of Michael Kightly from injury whilst Harry Kyprianou and John White were paired at centre-half for the visitors.
Marc-Antoine Fortune was another one of those five to come in and he sprang free down the left for Southend’s first chance on goal, only for his cross-come-shot to be gathered by George Long.
The Dons created the best of the early exchanges and came close when Lyle Taylor’s corner fell for Liam Trotter. His first-time effort was well blocked with Jimmy Abdou flashing the rebound wide.
Mark Oxley was then forced into evasive action when a misplaced pass led to a Dons counter-attack, leading to Taylor bearing down on goal before his strike was tipped over by the Blues number one.
Dru Yearwood forced a decent save from Long in the Dons goal with a long-range effort but overall Southend struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut chances in the first-half.
That half-chance from Yearwood was a mere respite for Blues as before the half-hour mark the home side went in front as Trotter opened his account for 2018 with the game’s first goal.
A clipped ball into the penalty area was headed towards goal by Taylor, but his effort was blocked straight into the path of Trotter who’d ghosted in unmarked to bundle the ball home.
Trotter’s strike was Dons’ first goal against Southend since 2014 having not scored against Blues in any of their last four meetings and it should have been followed by a second goal before the break.
Taylor had managed to get to the byline before teeing the ball back for the on-rushing Harry Forrester who was unmarked only for him to drag his shot well wide of Oxley’s near post.
The home side though didn’t have to wait much longer to double their advantage as within three minutes of the restart Wimbledon went 2-0 ahead with Tom Soares getting the decisive touch.
Taylor’s free-kick from wide on the left was sent towards goal by a Deji Oshilaja looping header with Soares flicking the ball on as the linesman adjudged his flick to have crossed the line.
Phil Brown responded to going two behind by bringing on Stephen McLaughlin and Nile Ranger and it was immediately followed by a spell of sustained Blues pressure.
Yearwood went for another spectacular effort with a bicycle kick that flew off target before Simon Cox had Blues’ best chance of the game with a free-header which went over.
Southend’s afternoon was summed up late on when good work between Anthony Wordsworth and Ranger put Jermaine McGlashan in, but his shot across goal comfortably missed the far post.
Despite the win, Wimbledon remain inside the relegation zone with Southend dropping down to 17th in the table and just four points above their victors.
AFC Wimbledon XI: Long, Oshilaja, Nightingale, Francomb (C), Abdou, Forrester (Barcham 79’), Trotter, Soares, Kaja, Kennedy, Taylor (McDonald 88’). Subs Not Used: McDonnell, Robinson, Hartigan, Egan, Charles
Blues XI: Oxley, Coker, Wordsworth, Kightly (McLaughlin 56’), Fortune, Cox (Ranger 56’), Yearwood (McGlashan 65’), Leonard (C), Demetriou, Kyprianou, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Ba, Bwomono, Phillips
Referee: J Busby
Assistants: G Kane & S Lewis
Fourth Official: I Fissenden
AFC Wimbledon: Liam Trotter 27’, Tom Soares 48’
Southend United: None
AFC Wimbledon: None
Southend United: None