Blues began their 2019/20 campaign with a 1-0 defeat against Coventry City with Zain Westbrooke’s strike early in the second-half the difference at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.
Coventry had the better of the opening 45 minutes with chances falling to Jordan Shipley and Wesley Jobello before Jordy Hiwula had an effort superbly cleared off the line by Harry Lennon.
Mark Robins’ side then took the lead early after the restart when Westbrooke fired in a low strike from outside the area and into the bottom corner to give Coventry the lead.
Southend had three great headed chances to level go begging, with Joe Shaughnessy’s free-header going wide before Nathan Ralph’s header minutes later was tipped over the bar by Marko Marosi.
Stephen Humphrys then saw his header crash against the face of the crossbar as Blues continued to push for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be for Blues who began their campaign with a defeat.
It wasn’t the start to the season that Kevin Bond would have wanted for his side but he’ll take plenty of encouragement away from the afternoon, despite the result.
Ahead of the game, Bond handed four Southend players their full debuts with Mark Milligan skippering the side alongside fellow new boys Joe Shaughnessy, Nathan Ralph and Brandon Goodship.
Theo Robinson spearheaded the attack for Blues at St. Andrew’s but the visitors found it tough to create any clear opportunities in front of the Sky Blues goal in the opening 45 minutes.
Coventry, on the other hand, made a much brighter start and Mark Robins’ side went close inside six minutes when Jordan Shipley opened his body up, clipping the outside of the post with his strike.
After a well-publicised dispute with the owners of the Ricoh Arena, Coventry were in unfamiliar surroundings at the home of Birmingham City but they looked the more settled going forward.
Wesley Jobello had a half-chance when he was found by a clipped ball over the top, only to stab just wide, before Coventry had by far their best chance of the game midway through the first-half.
A heavy touch from Shaugnessy allowed Jordy Hiwula to go clean through on goal, rounding Mark Oxley before shooting, but Harry Lennon done superbly well to get back and clear off the goal line.
That was how it would remain at the interval, but it wasn’t long after that Coventry would open the scoring with Zain Westbrooke scoring his first goal for the Sky Blues.
A crossfield pass from Amadou Bakayoko found the run of Westbrooke, who lined it up and rifled a low strike into the bottom corner to give the ‘home’ side the lead after 51 minutes.
Having done the league double over Blues last season, Coventry went close to putting daylight between the two sides when Shipley whipped a dangerous cross into the penalty area.
The ball in was just missed by Hiwula before cannoning off Jobello and going towards goal, but Oxley showed great reactions to get across his line and palm the ball away to safety.
Southend continued to be frustrated in the final third, so Bond made a double change with Stephen Humphrys and Simon Cox being introduced with Humphrys immediately looking threatening.
And Blues would see their best chance of the game so far come and go with a little over 10 minutes remaining when Shaughnessy was found inside the penalty area.
Isaac Hutchinson’s dinked ball into the box found the centre-back completely unmarked, but he put his header agonisingly wide when anything on target was likely to have been the equaliser.
Cries of “yellows, yellows” from over 1,000 travelling fans urged the visitors forward and Ralph was denied by a brilliant fingertip save from Marko Marosi to tip over the full-back’s header.
Southend continued to throw everything forward looking for an equaliser and Humphrys had another headed chance come crashing off the face of the crossbar with time running out.
But, try as they might, the visitors couldn’t break down the Coventry defences and nick an equaliser their second-half display had deserved as they began the new league season with a defeat.
Coventry City XI: Marosi, Mason, Rose, McFadzean, Kelly (C), Jobello, Hiwula, Bakayoko, Dabo, Westbrooke, Shipley (Eccles 79’). Subs Not Used: Wilson, Biamou, Hyam, Pask, Bapaga, Burroughs
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Ralph, Hyam (Humphrys 57’), Milligan (C), McLaughlin (Hutchinson 46’), Goodship, Mantom, Shaughnessy, Lennon, Robinson (Cox 57’). Subs Not Used: Bishop, Kelman, Blackman, White
Referee: Craig Hicks
Assistants: David Plowright & Craig Taylor
Fourth Official: Richard Morris
Coventry City: Zain Westbrooke 51’
Southend United: None
Coventry City: Liam Kelly 88’
Southend United: Harry Lennon 90+6’
Attendance: 6,534 (1,064 Away)