Southend United put up a spirited fight against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light only to fall to a 1-0 defeat thanks to Luke O’Nien’s header.
The Black Cats would break the deadlock 20 minutes into the first-half when Denver Hume picked out the run of O’Nien inside the box with O’Nien’s diving header finding the bottom corner.
Blues would have plenty of possession but couldn’t find a way through the Sunderland defences as the home side spurned a number of decent opportunities to extend their lead.
Southend pushed for an equaliser and had a decent opportunity for Timothee Dieng go begging, but the home side held firm to maintain their unbeaten home record this season.
Despite Blues recording yet another defeat, it was an improved performance from Sol Campbell’s side in just his second game in charge at the club.
The former Newcastle defender made three changes to his side that lost 3-1 to Ipswich Town last weekend, with Nathan Bishop, Harry Lennon and Brandon Goodship coming into the starting 11.
Against a side who had only been beaten once at home in the league since the start of last season, Southend began with some neat passages of play but were unable to create any clear chances.
Isaac Hutchinson’s burst of pace gave Blues their best opening early on, breaking through the Sunderland backline only for Elvis Bwomono’s half-volley to go off target.
The Black Cats would though command the majority of possession and midway through the first-half they would break the deadlock through a well-taken header from Luke O’Nien.
Denver Hume found space on the left to deliver a cross which found the run of O’Nien eight yards out, diving forward to head the ball out of the reach of Bishop and into the bottom corner.
Having gone behind, Southend tried frustrating their hosts, forcing those in red and white into errors which were often greeted by jeers from the majority of those inside the Stadium of Light.
That made for a nervy atmosphere, despite the home side being in front, and Southend had a couple of good opportunities to capitalise on that nervousness before the interval.
Joe Shaughnessy’s long throws were causing some problems inside the Sunderland penalty area, with Tom Hopper and Simon Cox having half-shouts for penalties waved away.
Bwomono then crossed for Hopper who in turn laid the ball back across goal for the incoming Goodship, but the young striker failed to get the connection he desired to hit the target.
Early in the second-half, Sunderland had a couple of good opportunities to extend their lead go begging with Will Grigg’s header going narrowly over the crossbar.
A weaving run from Hume then allowed the Black Cats winger to get a shot in on goal only for his effort from a narrow-angle to be blocked at the near post by the recovering Bwomono.
Southend would see a lot of the ball in the second-half but Jon McLaughlin remained untested in the Sunderland goal with Blues unable to get into scoring positions.
Up the other end however, Bishop had to be at his best to save a curling Aiden McGeady effort before O’Nien fired a volley straight down the throat of Bishop as they pushed for a second.
The longer Southend kept the home side within arm’s reach, the more chance they would have of nicking an unlikely result on Wearside, with the home crowd continuing to voice their frustration.
And with less than 10 minutes remaining, Blues had a great chance with a wide free-kick which fell kindly for Timothee Dieng only for the Frenchman not to completely miss the bouncing ball.
With time running out for the visitors, Cox had a speculative effort from distance go straight into the hands of Jon McLaughlin with the home side holding firm for the victory.
Campbell though will still be able to take positives from the afternoon, despite another defeat for Blues, with Southend on the road again on Tuesday night against Portsmouth.
Sunderland XI: J McLaughlin, C McLaughlin, Lynch, Willis, Power (C), Maguire (Watmore 62’), O’Nien, Dobson, McGeady (Leadbitter 86’), Grigg (McNulty 78’), Hume. Subs Not Used: Patterson, McGeouch, Flanagan, Kimpioka
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (C) (Hyam 78’), Dieng, Hopper (Rush 78’), Cox, Goodship (Acquah 64’), Shaughnessy, Lennon, Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Oxley, Ndukwu, Demetriou, Taylor
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Assistants: Stephen Wade & Ian Dudley
Fourth Official: Garreth Rhodes
Sunderland: Luke O’Nien 20’
Southend United: None
Sunderland: Conor McLaughlin 84’, Luke O’Nien 90+1’
Southend United: Tom Hopper 73’