Kieffer Moore was once again the scourge of Southend United as his late header was enough for Barnsley to secure a 1-0 win against Blues at Oakwell.
Harry Bunn and Simon Cox had Blues’ best opportunities in front of goal either side of the break, with Cox also having a goal ruled out for offside in the second-half.
Barnsley though had their chances and twice hit the crossbar in quick succession before Moore – who scored a hat-trick against Blues for Rotherham last season – popped up with the winner.
Following defeat on the road at Sunderland last weekend, this one would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Powell’s side who, for the fourth time this season, were defeated by a late goal.
It would have been even harder to take for Powell considering the tough week the club have had, with top scorer Tom Hopper and defender Ben Coker suffering season-ending injuries.
But a trip to Barnsley was always going to be a tough test for Blues and going into the game they made two changes with Stephen Hendrie and John White coming in for Coker and midfielder Stephen McLaughlin.
Barnsley were defending an 11-game unbeaten run at home but Southend were the ones who started out on top and should have scored within the first 90-seconds when Simon Cox cut the ball back for Harry Bunn who screwed wide from 10-yards out.
Bunn then had another good chance to put Blues in front when Taylor Moore darted down the right wing before picking out Bunn with his cross. The on-loan Bury man’s header was on target but lacked the power needed to beat Barnsley skipper, Adam Davies.
Barnsley eventually began to settle into the game and were looking threatening down both flanks, but with every cross that came into the Southend box, the Blues defence stood firm as Mark Oxley failed to be tested.
And it was Southend who continued to have the better of the chances as the first-half progressed and they went close again before the half-hour mark when Moore was slipped through down the right before firing into the side-netting from a tight angle.
The two sides would go into the break goalless but not before Barnsley had created two huge chances to break the deadlock in the closing stages of the half, with Kieffer Moore and Brad Potts both having opportunities to put the Tykes in front.
Moore was put through by a lofted ball over the top and still managed to force Oxley into a smart save despite pressure from Taylor Moore. A cross from the left then picked out Potts inside the penalty area with the midfielder blasting the ball inches wide on the volley.
Much like the first-half, Southend started brightly after the restart and Cox had a guilt-edged chance to put Blues ahead go begging. Timothee Dieng slid the ball to Cox who was in space, but he failed to pull the trigger, before Jason Demetriou’s cross couldn’t find the outstretched leg of Bunn.
Too many times in recent memory have Blues been made to pay the price for not taking their chances in front of goal and Barnsley almost punished Powell’s side for their wastefulness, hitting the woodwork twice in quick succession.
A corner from the Tykes right was headed onto the top of the crossbar by Moore before Cameron McGeehan fired over from the rebound. Seconds later and Potts rattled the crossbar with a thunderous strike from inside the area after being teed up by Ryan Hedges.
Heading towards the final 10 minutes, Southend thought they had finally broken the deadlock to take the lead when Yearwood played Cox through. The Blues number 10 rolled the ball beyond Davies and into the bottom corner only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out.
With both sides looking like they were going to settle for a point apiece, Barnsley would break Blues hearts by getting the breakthrough with three minutes of normal time remaining, and it was Moore who was the one to inflict the damage once again with the winner.
Alex Mowatt’s corner from the right was whipped into the six-yard box, finding the head of Moore who couldn’t miss from close range to not only break the deadlock but win all three points for the home side and send Blues home empty-handed.
Barnsley XI: Davies (C), Pinnock, Linsay, Cavare, Pinillos (Moncur 83’), McGeehan, Potts, Mowatt, Bahre (Hedges 56’), Thiam (Woodrow 66’), Moore. Subs Not Used: Greatorex, Fryers, Adeboyejo, Brown
Blues XI: Oxley, Turner, Dieng, Cox (Robinson 82’), Yearwood, Mantom (C)(McCoulsky 90’), Moore, Demetriou, Bunn (Kightly 69’), Hendrie, White. Subs Not Used: Smith, Bwomono, McLaughlin, Kyprianou
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistants: Paul Newhouse & Matthew Parry
Fourth Official: Ken Haycock
Barnsley: Kieffer Moore 87’
Southend United: None
Southend United: None