Blues’ woes continued as Connor Ogilvie’s powerful header midway through the second half earned Gillingham a 1-0 win at Roots Hall.
After a tight first 45 minutes of few chances, Ogilvie got on the end of a wicked cross from Jordan Graham to power home his header from a matter of yards out.
That was enough to win it for Gillingham in miserable conditions in Essex, allowing the visitors to extend their unbeaten league run to 14-matches and continue their late play-off push.
But there can be no faulting the effort and endeavour shown by a young Blues side who battled valiantly and had a great chance to nick a point late on as Matt Rush got goal side only to fire wide.
Ogilvie’s goal though meant it was a fourth defeat in a row for Blues, leaving them 14-points adrift of safety with 12 matches remaining, starting with Saturday’s visit of Burton Albion.
Following on from Saturday’s defeat to Coventry, Sol Campbell made three changes to his Blues side for the visit of in-form Gillingham, including giving a full debut to goalkeeper Harry Seaden.
The 18-year-old was in in place of the injured Mark Oxley but he was barely troubled in a tight first half that produced limited chances for either side.
Of the chances that were created, Southend had the best of them and saw efforts from Harry Kyprianou and a couple of free-kicks from Stephen McLaughlin easily seen off by Jack Bonham.
Elvis Bwomono also had a chance after finding space to run into, though he saw his scuffed effort easily gobbled up by Gills goalkeeper Bonham as it remained goalless at the interval.
Gillingham had come into tonight’s game off the back of a 13-game unbeaten run in League One but they struggled to make any inroads and test the debuting Seaden in the Southend goal.
In fact, it was Seaden’s opposite number Bonham that was having the busier evening and he was forced into making a superb save low to his left to prevent Charlie Kelman from firing in.
Kelman done brilliantly to get on the end of a long ball forward, and with no support forthcoming, the youngster would shift onto his right before shooting low only for Bonham to get down quickly.
The visitors though would make the breakthrough midway through the second period and, having missed an earlier headed chance, Connor Ogilvie would make amends by powering in the opener.
A cross from the right from substitute Jordan Graham picked out the run of the Gills full back perfectly, leaving Ogilvie to thunder in his header from about three yards out.
Sol Campbell’s side were now having to play catch-up and as the rain came down at Roots Hall, they were unable to find a way through to an equaliser as a fourth successive defeat was confirmed.
They did though have a fantastic chance in the final minute of normal time as substitute Matt Rush got goal side but he rifled his shot just wide of Bonham’s right-hand post.
Gillingham continue their march closer to the top-six, and with it a chance at promotion to the Championship, while Southend’s troubles at the bottom of League One continue.
Blues XI: Seaden, Bwomono, Milligan, Dieng (C), McLaughlin, Mantom, Kelman, Kyprianou (Shaughnessy 75’), Clifford, Egbri (Rush 85’), Mitchell-Nelson. Subs Not Used: Taylor, Klass, Barratt, Hutchinson, Kinali
Gillingham XI: Bonham, Ehmer (C), Ogilvie, Hanlan, Willock (Lee 62’), Mandron (Graham 46’), Roberts (Charles-Cook 90+4’), Fuller, Akinde, O’Connor, Tucker. Subs Not Used: Walsh, Jones, Pringle, Woods
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Assistants: Alasdair Ross & Paul Kelly
Fourth Official: Nicholas Cooper
Southend United: None
Gillingham: Connor Ogilvie 67’
Southend United: Miles Mitchell-Nelson 74’, Charlie Kelman 90+3’
Gillingham: Jack Tucker 30’, Max Ehmer 72’
Attendance: 6,021 (877 Away Fans)