Sol Campbell’s reign as Southend boss began with a 3-1 defeat at home to Ipswich Town as James Norwood’s double and a Kayden Jackson strike secured the points for the visitors.
Blues thought they had made the perfect start under their new boss when Rob Kiernan headed in an Isaac Hutchinson free-kick only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Ipswich would then take the lead through Norwood after Jackson’s long ball forward allowed the Town striker to get goal side before he fired into the bottom corner after eight minutes.
Norwood would put daylight between the two sides midway through the second-half, again getting on the end of a Jackson pass to find the bottom corner and double their lead.
Provider then turned goal scorer ass Jon Nolan’s long-range shot was parried by Mark Oxley into the feet of Jackson who took a touch to compose himself before slotting the ball in.
Emile Acquah would grab a consolation goal late on, scoring his first senior goal for the club from close range, but it was another defeat for Blues who are yet to win at home this season.
The win for Ipswich saw them return to the top of the League One table, ending a run of two straight defeats, with Southend facing another big task next weekend away at Sunderland.
Having watched Blues’ 7-1 defeat to Doncaster Rovers in midweek, Sol Campbell knew he had a big job on his hands taking over at Blues who went into this weekend eight points from safety.
And for his first game in charge of Southend, Campbell would make three changes and went with an attacking line-up which saw Simon Cox, Tom Hopper and Stephen Humphrys all starting.
But it was one of Campbell’s defensive changes that looked to have given Southend the perfect start when Rob Kiernan nodded the ball into the back of the net in just the fourth minute.
Isaac Hutchinson’s free-kick from wide on the right was headed beyond Will Norris in the Ipswich goal, but Blues’ celebrations were cut short as the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
Having survived that scare, Ipswich would go and open the scoring just a few minutes later as James Norwood would capitalise on a long ball forward to break the deadlock.
Kayden Jackson’s looped ball forward allowed Norwood to get goal side. Hesitation from Mark Oxley let the Town striker get to the ball first, blasting it into the bottom corner to give Ipswich the lead.
In blustery conditions on the Essex coast, further chances for either side were few and far between, but it was the visitors who certainly had the better of the opportunities.
Southend’s best chance came when Elvis Bwomono’s cross-shot evaded the stretching Tom Hopper and Stephen Humphrys as the ball flew out of play.
Paul Lambert’s side were able to test Oxley again before the interval with the Blues goalkeeper making a smart double save, first from Jon Nolan before saving Jackson’s follow-up.
And The Tractor Boys had a great chance to double their lead go begging right on half time as Luke Garbutt’s corner was headed back across goal by Norwood only for Luke Chambers to head wide.
The next goal in this one was likely to be crucial and Ipswich looked the most likely to grab a second, with a Garbutt free-kick that went around the wall but couldn’t find the inside of the post.
Gwion Edwards then went just as close with a curling effort that zipped past Oxley’s left-hand upright but within seconds of that chance, Norwood would all but kill the game off with his second.
Jackson again was the provider as the Town number nine got to the byline and cut the ball back for Norwood who, first time, slid the ball into the bottom corner to put daylight between the two sides.
Southend now had a mammoth uphill battle to contend with and Ipswich would seal the points as Jackson got himself on the scoresheet having previously set up both of Norwood’s goals.
Nolan would inadvertently set up the Town number nine with a long-range effort that was parried out by Oxley, with Jackson cooly taking a touch before slotting the ball in to make it three.
Blues weren’t looking likely to get back into the contest as the minutes ticked away but they would grab a consolation goal late on through the substitute Emile Acquah.
Nathan Ralph’s left-wing cross caused problems in the Ipswich defence before the ball fell kindly to Acquah to tap in from close range for his first senior goal for the club, as the game finished 3-1.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (C) (Demetriou 84’), Humphrys, Dieng, Hopper (Acquah 71’), Cox, Kiernan, Shaughnessy, Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Hyam, Goodship, Taylor, Rush
Ipswich Town XI: Norris, Chambers (C), Edwards, Skuse (Nolan 28’), Jackson, Norwood, Rowe (Judge 68’), Downes, Vincent-Young (Wilson 59’), Woolfenden, Garbutt. Subs Not Used: Holy, Georgiou, Huws, Keane
Referee: Andy Davies
Assistants: Darren Blunden & Adrian Waters
Fourth Official: Michael George
Southend United: Emile Acquah 83’
Ipswich Town: James Norwood 8’, 70’, Kayden Jackson 76’
Southend United: Stephen Humphrys 38’, Simon Cox 75’
Ipswich Town: Flynn Downes 10’, Kayden Jackson 48’
Attendance: 8,632 (2,450 Away Fans)