Southend’s unbeaten start under Chris Powell is over after a hat-trick from Erhun Oztumer saw Blues lose 3-0 to Walsall at Roots Hall.
Having gone to so much effort to get the game on in the first place, following the awful weather that has caused chaos across the country, Blues were undone by the Saddlers top-scorer.
His first effort came with a stroke of luck after his left-football strike from outside the area skipped up off the Roots Hall turf to deceive the dive of Mark Oxley.
There was no luck about his second though with his free-kick from a similar distance to his first goal going up and over the wall before hitting the back of the net.
The diminutive midfielder would then wrap up his hat-trick with five minutes remaining, stabbing in a low cross from Luke Leahy to take home the match ball.
Defeat brought to an end a run of five games unbeaten under Powell sine taking the hot-seat at Roots Hall, allowing Walsall to leapfrog Powell’s side into 13th in the League One table.
With the club in a good run of form and having not had a game for two weeks after their match with Oldham was called off, Southend were desperate for today’s game to go ahead.
Earlier in the week, the club appealed to fans to come down to Roots Hall and help clear the pitch, with almost 200 Blues fans arriving at 8am in an attempt to get the game on.
Their efforts were awarded as the game against the Saddlers was one of only three games on Saturday to survive the “Beast from the East” along with MK Dons and Scunthorpe.
Chris Powell chose to field an unchanged side to the one that defeated Portsmouth in Blues’ last game a fortnight ago, with Michael Kightly and Anthony Wordsworth returning to the bench.
Shayon Harrison and Freddie Ladapo retained their places and the two combined early on for Southend’s opening chance when a Harrison cross found Ladapo six yards out, but he headed over.
Simon Cox had a headed chance of his own moments later when he guided a Stephen McLaughlin cross on target only to see goalkeeper Liam Roberts get across well to make the save.
Blues were making life difficult for Walsall as they controlled most of the first half, but the visitors ended the first 45 strongly with chances for Julien Ngoy and Kieron Morris.
Ngoy was picked out by a superb long ball by Luke Leahy, with the striker controlling the ball well before seeing his strike well blocked by a last-ditch tackle by Michael Turner.
Minutes later and Morris picked up the ball on the right, cutting onto his left foot before sending a strike from distance that had Mark Oxley beaten, but failed to find the target.
Having ended the half brightly, Walsall got off to a good start in the second-half also and only an outstretched boot from Oxley prevented Ngoy from opening the scoring after the restart.
Blues survived a goalmouth scramble from the resulting corner and they should have taken the lead themselves when Harrison was picked out at the far post only to blaze over from four yards out.
It was a great chance for the Spurs-loanee striker and it was a miss that Blues were rue as the Saddlers broke the deadlock just before the hour mark through Erhun Oztumer.
The Saddlers’ top-scorer tried his luck from 25-yards after cutting onto his left-foot, seeing his strike take a nasty skip off the turf to deceive the dive of Oxley and hit the back of the net.
It was a horrible goal to concede for Oxley who’d been superb this season for Blues, but there was little he could do about Oztumer grabbing his and Walsall’s second eight minutes later.
The diminutive midfielder curled a delightful free-kick up and over the Southend wall, seeing his strike nestle in the net again to put the away side in firm control.
In last season’s corresponding fixture, Southend came from 2-0 down to secure a brilliant 3-2 win and Powell instantly made two changes in the hope of repeating that feat.
But the changes had little effect and Oztumer came close to completing his hat-trick in style with another free-kick which was this time saved by Oxley.
Oztumer though wasn’t to be denied the match-ball as he got on the end of a low cross from Leahy to stab home his and Walsall’s third with five minutes remaining.
Blues XI: Oxley, Coker (C), Ferdinand, Turner, Timlin (Wordsworth 75’), Cox, McLaughlin, Yearwood, Ladapo (Fortune 66’), Harrison (Kightly 66’), Demetriou. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Kyprianou, Bwomono, Wright
Walsall XI: L Roberts, Leahy, Dobson, Guthrie, Devlin, Chambers (C), Oztumer (Cuvelier 87’), Morris, Ngoy (Bakayoko 70’), K Roberts, Kouhyar (Kinsella 79’). Subs Not Used: Gillespie, Shaibu, Flanagan
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Marc Wilson & Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official: Alan Dale
Southend United: None
Walsall: Erhun Oztumer 57’, 65’, 85’
Southend United: Dru Yearwood 71’
Walsall: Adam Chambers 60’