Blues suffered a 2-0 defeat to local rivals Colchester United in the Checkatrade Trophy thanks to goals from Frankie Kent and Aaron Collins at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Both sides made a raft of changes to their sides following their weekend exertions in the league, with midfielder Stephen McLaughlin captaining a Blues side that saw a full-debut for youngster Isaac Hutchinson who came off the bench to score against Cambridge in the last group game.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes, Michael Klass helped carve out the game’s first chance by winning a corner with a deflected strike. From the resulting set-piece, the ball fell kindly to Shawn McCoulsky whose shot on the turn was well blocked inside the Colchester penalty area.
The home side then threatened with a couple of long-range efforts: first from Ryan Jackson, whose low drive was well held by Nathan Bishop in the Southend goal, followed by Sammie Szmodics who saw a shot from outside the area well charged down.
Colchester knew that a defeat would all but knock them out of the competition having lost their opening group game to Southampton u21s and they would take the break the deadlock in this vital clash with little over five minutes remaining in the first-half.
A long throw from Jackson into the heart of the Southend penalty area found the leap of Frankie Kent who nodded the ball across goal and into the far corner to give the home side the lead going into the interval.
The U’s would double their advantage early in the second-half as Aaron Collins finished off a flowing move for John McGreal’s side. A delightful reverse pass by Mikael Mandron found the run of Collins who calmly slotted the ball in between the legs of Bishop to put daylight between the sides.
Chris Powell brought on Michael Kightly and Dru Yearwood to try and wrestle Blues back into the game but it was Colchester who looked the more likely to score next with attempts from Kane Vincent-Young and Collins going close.
Southend were restricted to half-chances and probably knew it wouldn’t be their night when Elvis Bwomono’s cross the far post looked like being finished by McCoulsky whose header from a yard out was deflected over the crossbar by the back of Tom Eastman.
With Cambridge beating Southampton u21s comfortably in the other game in Southern Group B, all four sides in the group go into the final game level on three points with Cambridge hosting Colchester and Southend hosting the Saints next month for a place in the knockout stages.
Colchester United XI: Gilmartin, Jackson (Vincent-Young 46’), Prosser (C), Kent, Szmodics (Senior 58’), Dickenson, Comley, Wright, Eastman, Mandron (Norris 84’), Collins. Subs Not Used: Barnes, Pell, Gondoh, Kensdale
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Dieng, McLaughlin (C), Klass, Moore, McCoulsky, Robinson (Kightly 58’), Hendrie, Batlokwa (Gard 81’), Hutchinson (Yearwood 58’). Subs Not Used: Oxley, Coker, Turner, Cox
Referee: Roger East
Assistants: Darren Cann & Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Charles Breakspear
Colchester United: Frankie Kent 39’, Aaron Collins 49’
Southend United: None
Colchester United: None
Southend United: None
Attendance: 1,516 (541 Away)