10-man Southend United were unable to hold on for a vital point as Michael Turner’s own goal ended Blues’ unbeaten league run with a 2-1 defeat to Coventry City at Roots Hall.
The visitors were by far the better side in the first-half and took the lead after Jonson Clarke-Harris headed the ball down for Jordy Hiwula to score on the turn from close range.
Southend made a couple of early changes in the second-half and the introduction of Tom Hopper brought about Blues’ equaliser as the striker flashed a shot across Lee Burge and in.
But Southend’s hopes of completing the turnaround were all but dashed when Simon Cox received his marching orders after being shown two yellow cards in five minutes.
And Coventry would capitalise late on when Jodi Jones’ shot took a massive deflection off the legs of Michael Turner to win it for the away side in front of their travelling fans.
Southend pushed forward in the final seconds desperately to find an equaliser but it wouldn’t come for the home side whose run of five games unbeaten in the league came to an end.
It was a disappointing end to Blues’ unbeaten league run and boss Chris Powell will no doubt be wondering what he has to do to replicate his side’s away form at home.
Going into the visit of Coventry, Southend had won just twice at home compared to three times on the road, including last weekend’s 2-0 win away at Gillingham.
Joint-top scorer Tom Hopper was available again after missing out last weekend but Powell chose to keep faith with those that beat The Gills at Priestfield, naming an unchanged line-up.
The visitors Coventry travelled south off the back a late winner at home to Wycombe last Saturday and they looked sharp in the early stages at Roots Hall, creating a couple of good chances to break the deadlock inside the first 10 minutes.
Jonson Clarke-Harris’ header down to Jordy Hiwula saw the City number 11 hit a half-volley that was superbly blocked by Michael Turner. From the resulting corner, Tom Davies’ header looked to have crossed the goal line, but the linesman’s flag remained at his side.
Coventry continued to push forward as Southend struggled to keep a reign on their opponents and they went close again when Hiwula was picked out by a low ball into the box from the right, only for a last-ditch tackle from Turner to put off the Coventry man who shot wide.
The away side’s pressure though would eventually produce the opening goal as Hiwula put City in front. A corner from the Coventry left was headed down by Clarke-Harris towards Hiwula who, on the turn, scuffed the ball into the back of the net to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Southend had been second best for the vast majority of the first-half and their task of turning the game around could have been made much harder before the interval had Clarke-Harris managed to hit the target with his free-header from a Michael Doyle free-kick.
Chris Powell made a change to his system at the break and brought on Harry Bunn for the booked Ben Coker, but it did little in the way of stem the tide as Coventry went close again when Luke Thomas found acres of space on the right, forcing Mark Oxley to tip his effort over the bar.
The hour-mark saw Tom Hopper introduced to the action and he was involved almost straight away, starting a counter-attack that saw the ball played out to Simon Cox who then laid it off to Bunn whose shot deflected wide for Blues’ first corner of the game.
That seemed to give the home fans a little bit of confidence as the decibels grew inside Roots Hall before an explosion of noise greeted Southend’s equaliser. A long ball over the top from Cox found the run of Hopper who held off his man before firing across goal and in to bring the sides level.
Hopper’s seventh goal of the season had put Blues in with a chance of a surprise three points having played second-fiddle to Coventry for most of the game. But their chances of winning were dealt a blow when Simon Cox was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of five minutes.
A couple of late challenges by the in-form striker saw him giving his marching orders by referee Dean Whitestone with the second offence coming off the back of a late challenge on Coventry’s central defender Davies.
Southend had just over 10-minutes to keep Coventry at bay and Oxley had a to make a smart reflex save to prevent Jordan Shipley from grabbing what would have certainly been the winner before Luke Thomas’ curling effort went just over the crossbar.
Coventry though would eventually break the resolve of the Blues to snatch all three points in injury-time. Sub Jodi Jones found the ball at his feet from a corner and his shot took a decisive deflection off the legs of Turner to divert the ball into the back of the Southend net.
Southend had a couple of minutes to try and salvage a point and they went within a whisker of scoring from a corner. Oxley came up from the back and almost got a shot away in a goalmouth scramble which ended with Stephen Hendrie blazing over as City held on.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Coker (Bunn 46’), Turner, Dieng, Cox, Yearwood, Mantom (C) (Demetriou 78’), Moore, Robinson (Hopper 62’), Hendrie. Subs Not Used: Bishop, McLaughlin, Lennon, McCoulsky
Coventry City XI: Burge, Willis, Davies, Doyle (C), Chaplin (Jones 84’), Hiwula (Shipley 76’), Brown, Sterling, Clarke-Harris (Bakayoko 89’), Bayliss, Thomas. Subs Not Used: O’Brien, Kelly, Hyam, Ogogo
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistants: Paul Yates & Andrew Williams
Fourth Official: Andrew Aylott
Southend United: Tom Hopper 68’
Coventry City: Jordy Hiwula 20’, Michael Turner O.G. 90+2'
Southend United: Ben Coker 21’, Simon Cox 73’
Coventry City: Michael Doyle 6’, Tom Davies 56’
Southend United: Simon Cox 78’
Coventry City: None
Attendance: 7,775 (996 Away)