Southend bowed out of the Checkatrade Trophy at the third round stage as they disappointedly lost 2-0 at Roots Hall to an understrength Portsmouth side.
The visitors made 10 changes following their Emirates FA Cup win against Norwich City at the weekend and they caught Blues cold, going in front after just 93 seconds when Louis Dennis’ looping header went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Dennis’ early goal allowed Portsmouth to settle quickly and they had a couple of good opportunities to double their lead midway through the half, with Bradley Lethbridge blazing over following a Gareth Evans free-kick moments before David Wheeler went clean through only to miss the target.
Blues were struggling to show any real threat up front with Elvis Bwomono and Harry Bunn having efforts on goal which failed to test Alex Bass in the Portsmouth goal, but they almost carved out an opening with a well-worked free-kick late in the half.
Having been brought down wide on the right, Michael Kightly fed the ball into Simon Cox who in turn played in Theo Robinson whose low cross to the far post narrowly missing the outstretched legs of both Bunn and Taylor Moore who’d gone flying in at the far stick.
Southend’s task though was made twice as hard as in first-half stoppage time the visitors doubled their lead, with the scorer of their opener turning provider, as Dennis’ weaving run led to him teeing up captain Evans who leathered the ball beyond Ted Smith to make it 2-0 at the break.
Chris Powell – having made six changes prior to the game – made two changes at the break, bringing on Stephen McLaughlin and Timothee Dieng, with Blues forced into making a third and final change before the hour mark as Moore limped off injured, being replaced by Isaac Hutchinson.
The changes though made little difference as Southend failed to trouble Bass in the Portsmouth goal with Pompey having a chance to seal their passage through to the next round when Adam May fired over from close range midway through the second-half.
With less than 15 minutes remaining, Blues pressed for a goal to get themselves back in the contest, with Bunn seeing a deflected effort go wide as Southend won a series of corners but they couldn’t break down a sturdy Pompey backline to threaten a comeback.
Kenny Jackett’s side remained untroubled with Southend's night summed up in stoppage time when McLaughlin fired tamely over the crossbar from inside the area as Pompey booking their place in the last eight of the competition.
Blues XI: Smith, Bwomono, Hyam, Kightly (Dieng 46’), Cox (McLaughlin 46’), Yearwood (C), Moore (Hutchinson 60’), Bunn, Robinson, Hendrie, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Turner, Mantom, Klass
Portsmouth XI: Bass, Burgess, Dennis, Wheeler, Evans (C), May, Casey, Smith, Green (Read 46’), Haunstrup, Lethbridge (Maloney 54’). Sub Not Used: Durin, Clarke, Lowe, Hancott, Mnoga
Referee: Craig Hicks
Assistants: Paul Yates & Callum Walchester
Fourth Official: Alan Young
Southend United: None
Portsmouth: Louis Dennis 2’, Gareth Evans 45+2’
Southend United: None
Attendance: 1,649 (189 Away)