Southend United recorded a much needed three points after Simon Cox’s second-half strike secured Blues a 1-0 win against Fleetwood Town at Roots Hall.
Following three successive defeats in the league, Chris Powell rung the changes and freshened up the formation, and Blues would dominate the first-half without being able to break the deadlock.
But unlike in previous games at Roots Hall, Southend would not pay for their profligacy as a Simon Cox tap in opened the scoring less than 10-minutes into the second-half.
Paddy Madden had Fleetwood’s best chance to equalise almost immediately, only to be snuffed out by a superb sliding tackle from Michael Turner to protect Southend’s clean sheet.
Fleetwood would finish the game with 10-men after James Wallace saw red in injury time for a second bookable offence as Southend held out to record a vital victory.
The win was the reaction that Chris Powell was looking for following the disappointment of losing at Shrewsbury last weekend and was a deserved result on the balance of the play.
Following that defeat in Shropshire – Southend’s third in a row in the league – Chris Powell mixed things up for the visit of Joey Barton’s Fleetwood, who themselves were unbeaten since the opening day of the season.
Michael Turner came back into the back-three with Theo Robinson partnering Tom Hopper up front with Southend switching to a 3-4-1-2 and the new look Blues line-up would control the vast majority of the first-half at without being able to break through the Cod Army defences.
It was an error at the back by the visitors that put Blues in for their first real chance of the afternoon when a loose pass from Ashley Eastham was pounced upon. Jason Demetriou couldn’t pick out a man in the middle before a goalmouth scramble ended in Town hacking it clear.
Persistent rain in the area was the perfect excuse for Blues to try some efforts from long range with a couple of efforts from Timothee Dieng and one from Robinson testing goalkeeper Alex Cairns but the Fleetwood ‘keeper was up to the challenge.
Having been second best in the first-half, Fleetwood began the second half strongly and Paddy Madden – who’d scored five in his last five appearances against Blues – saw his downward header go perilously close to opening the scoring, only to come off the outside of the post.
But unlike in previous games where Blues have been made to pay for not converting their first-half dominance, this time they would open the scoring after Simon Cox capitalised on a slip from Cian Bolger to open the scoring inside 10-minutes of the restart.
Former Southend defender Bolger lost his balance after Cairns had played the ball out to him, leaving Robinson to clip a low ball across to Cox who just about managed to tap the ball home from a couple of yards out for his second goal of the season.
With recent results eating away at the confidence of Powell’s side, it was imperative that Blues didn’t concede quickly after going in front and only a vital sliding tackle from Turner at David Stockdale’s near-post prevented Madden from slotting in an immediate equaliser.
Fleetwood was perplexed to a see a penalty shout waved away by referee Charles Breakspear with less than 15 minutes to go, although it looked more as though it was two Town players that collided, as Southend counted down the minutes to their first win in four.
Five minutes added time was shown at the end of the half with Barton’s side pushing for an equaliser, but the visitors would fail to level and would end the game with 10-men after sub James Wallace was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Shawn McCoulsky.
The final whistle from referee Breakspear was greeted by cheers as much as relief by the Roots Hall crowd as Southend ended their run with a hard-fought and deserved three points.
Blues XI: Stockdale, Coker, Turner, Dieng, Hopper (McCoulsky 90+3’), Cox, Mantom (C), Demetriou, Robinson (Klass 78’), Moore, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Bwomono, McLaughlin, Kyprianou, Hutchinson
Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns, Coyle, Holt, Eastham (C), Dempsey (R Wallace 59’), Evans, Bolger, Madden, Jones, Hunter, Marney (J Wallace 46’). Subs Not Used: Crellin, Grant, Biggins, Sheron, Rydel
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Michael Webb & Marc Wilson
Fourth Official: Michael George
Southend United: Simon Cox 53’
Fleetwood Town: None
Southend United: Simon Cox 60’
Fleetwood Town: James Wallace 58’, Ashley Hunter 79’
Southend United: None
Fleetwood Town: James Wallace 90+4’
Attendance: 5,712 (51 Away)