New Blues boss Sol Campbell watched on as the nine men of Southend were soundly beaten 7-1 by Doncaster Rovers at Roots Hall.
Southend’s backs were against the wall early on when Ethan Hamilton was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Jon Taylor after only six minutes.
But Blues would still manage to open the scoring when Isaac Hutchinson found the top corner with a brilliantly taken free-kick that gave the 10-men something to hold onto.
Doncaster though would quickly turn the tables midway through the half with goals from Kwame Thomas and Ben Sheaf before Thomas grabbed Rovers’ third shortly after the interval.
Stephen McLaughlin was then shown red for a challenge, again on Taylor, before Ben Whiteman grabbed a fourth for the visitors with a well-taken effort from 20-yards out.
Kieran Sadlier and Alfie May would inflict more punishment on the nine men of Blues before a Nathan Ralph own goal rounded off a miserable night for the home side.
Ahead of kick-off, Blues announced Sol Campbell as their new manager and it was clear early on that the Southend players were keen to impress their new gaffer who was watching from the stands.
But despite a bright start, things quickly took a turn for the worse for Southend who were reduced to 10 men in just the sixth minute as Ethan Hamilton was given a straight red card.
The on-loan Manchester United midfielder was given his marching orders after a knee-high challenge on Doncaster’s Jon Taylor with ref Josh Smith having no hesitation in brandishing the red.
Blues now had an age to last a man light against a Doncaster side that they hadn’t beaten in any of their last nine meetings, but unbelievably the 10-men of Southend would take an early lead.
Tom Hopper was brought down 25-yards out, allowing Isacc Hutchinson to stand over the dead ball and curl a superb free-kick into the top corner which gave goalkeeper Seny Dieng no chance.
Hutchinson’s goal gave Blues something to hold onto, but the visitors would make their numerical advantage count by grabbing two goals in quick succession to turn the match in their favour.
Kieran Sadlier’s whipped ball in from the left found the unmarked Kwame Thomas at the far-post midway through the first half, with the Rovers number 39 heading in from six-yards out.
Three minutes later and Rovers were in front as James Coppinger’s cross was volleyed towards goal by Ben Sheaf, with his effort taking a big deflection off Nathan Ralph to beat Nathan Bishop.
Blues would need to dig deep in the second-half if they were to have any hope of salvaging anything from the game but in a crazy 60 seconds Southend found themselves two goals and two men down.
Doncaster first extended their lead when Thomas grabbed his second goal of the evening, getting on the end of a flick-on inside the box to score at the far-post.
Just moments later and Southend were reduced to nine men as Stephen McLaughlin become the second Blues player to be shown a straight red card for a foul on Doncaster’s Taylor.
Taylor, who had been fouled for the Hamilton red card earlier in the game, was caught by McLaughlin on the ankle which was enough for referee Smith to show his red card once more.
With Doncaster all but assured of their first away win in the league this season and Blues beginning the tire, the visitors would run rampant by scoring four more goals in the final 20 minutes.
Ben Whiteman, who’d previously scored a hat-trick for Doncaster against Blues, curled one in from 20-yards beyond the despairing dive of Bishop to make it 4-1.
Sadlier then scored Doncaster’s fifth, scoring on the rebound after Taylor had struck the foot of the post, before Alfie May lifted the ball over Bishop for a sixth in the final minute of normal time.
And as injury time was shown, Taylor’s cross deflected into the net off Ralph to round off the scoring on a miserable night for Blues.
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (C), Dieng (Lennon 56’), Hopper (Humphrys 55’), Cox, McLaughlin, Hamilton, Shaughnessy, Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Oxley, Goodship, Kiernan, Demetriou, Acquah
Doncaster Rovers XI: Dieng, Halliday, James, Anderson, Sheaf, Sadlier, Whiteman (C), Taylor, Coppinger (May 63’), Daniels (Wright 46’), Thomas (Gomes 74’). Subs Not Used: Lawlor, Blaney, Longbottom, Ennis
Referee: Josh Smith
Assistants: Carl Fitch-Jackson & Anthony Da Costa
Fourth Official: Stephen Finch
Southend United: Isaac Hutchinson 11’
Doncaster Rovers: Kwame Thomas 23’, 52’ Ben Sheaf 26’, Ben Whiteman 70’, Kieran Sadlier 82’, Alfie May 90’, Nathan Ralph O.G. 90+1
Southend United: Mark Milligan 60’, Harry Lennon 67’
Doncaster Rovers: Donervon Daniels 1’
Southend United: Ethan Hamilton 6’, Stephen McLaughlin 53’
Doncaster Rovers: None
Attendance: 5,066 (233 Away Fans)