Charlie Kelman’s second-half brace saw Blues reach the second round of the Carabao Cup at the expense of League Two side Stevenage thanks to a 2-1 win at The Lamex Stadium.
Blues began brightly against The Boro creating a couple of good opportunities to break the deadlock early on with Stephen McLaughlin forcing a save out of Paul Farman inside five minutes.
Sam Mantom then saw his free-kick accidentally blocked by Harry Lennon before McLaughlin chanced his arm again at Farman only for the Stevenage goalkeeper to comfortably save.
Against the run of play, however, Stevenage would take the lead with a superb strike from Dean Parrett, opening the scoring, as well as The Boro’s account for the season, in the 14th minute.
Mantom’s attempt to cut out a through ball inadvertently allowed the ball to fall perfectly for Parrett who rifled the ball into the top corner from 20-yards to give the home side the lead.
The goal had understandably lifted Stevenage who pushed for a second and had a good chance to extend their lead through Kurtis Guthrie who stabbed a corner wide on the stretch.
But Southend would end the half strongly and should have levelled before the break when Isaac Hutchinson was picked out only for a superb Luis Fernandez block to stop his goal-bound effort.
Kevin Bond’s side didn’t have to wait too long after the interval though to equalise as they restored parity within two minutes of the restart through Charlie Kelman’s first goal of the season.
A perfectly swung-in cross from the right from Elvis Bwomono found the head of Kelman six yards out with the striker thundering his header beyond Farman to make it 1-1.
It was arguably just reward for Blues who’d had a lot of the play in the first-half and they would carry the momentum forward and take the lead for the first time with Kelman grabbing his second.
McLaughlin and Nathan Ralph combined well down the left with the full-back laying the ball off to Kelman who took one touch to control before using his second to fire in at Farman’s near post.
The youngster’s brace had put Blues on course for their first win in the League Cup for almost a decade, having not won in the competition since beating Bristol City in 2010.
Stevenage pushed for an equaliser but were dealt a blow as sub Emmanuel Sonupe pulled up with a thigh injury, and having used all of their subs, the home side had to finish the game with 10-men.
Blues though still had to ride their luck late on with Joe Shaughnessy pulling out a superb block in the penalty area before Guthrie’s header went straight down the throat of the thankful Bishop.
A Stevenage equaliser would have forced a penalty shoot-out with no extra time to be played, but Southend held out for the five additional minutes shown to advance to the second round.
Stevenage XI: Farman, James-Wildin, Cuthbert (C) (Sonupe 59’), Soares, Carter (Cowley 77’), Husin, Vancooten, Parrett (Ionttoon 50’), Taylor, Guthrie, Fernandez. Subs Not Used: Bastien, Rollinson, Newton, Smith
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (C), Cox, McLaughlin (Blackman 77’), Mantom, Shaughnessy, Kelman (Robinson 90+2’), Lennon (White 25’), Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Oxley, Hyam, Humphrys, Ndukwu
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Assistants: Gareth Viccars & Andrew Aylott
Fourth Official: Lee Venamore
Stevenage: Dean Parrett 14’
Southend United: Charlie Kelman 47’, 55’
Stevenage: Kurtis Guthrie 45+6’, Luis Fernandez 73’
Southend United: Isaac Hutchinson 70’
Attendance: 1,315 (362)