Jason Demetriou’s second-half penalty ended Blues’ 16-game winless run as they deservedly beat Accrington Stanley 2-1 at the Wham Stadium.
The visitors had taken the lead through a superbly taken strike from Charlie Kelman early in the first-half only for Dion Charles to nod in an equaliser just six minutes later.
Accrington had a number of opportunities to take the lead go begging as Southend held firm, and after the restart, Sol Campbell’s side would go back in front from the penalty spot.
Brandon Goodship was brought down by Joe Pritchard, giving Demetriou the chance to retake the lead which he duly took as he rolled the ball beyond Josef Bursik.
Southend had chances to rubber-stamp the three points with Sam Barratt forcing a brilliant save from Bursik before striking the foot of his post moments later.
But it wouldn’t matter for Blues who picked up just their second win of the season, their first since September 21st, while Accrington suffered their third successive league defeat.
Campbell will feel that this win was just rewards for the improved performances his Southend side had put in in recent weeks, having drawn the previous three games prior to the visit to Lancashire.
The Blues boss was forced into making once change following last weekend’s stalemate against Tranmere Rovers with Charlie Kelman coming in for Stephen Humphrys who was ill.
It was Kelman’s first start since for Blues since he scored the winner in Southend’s only previous win of this season against MK Dons and it looked like history may repeat itself after just 11 minutes.
Some poor defending by Accrington allowed Tom Hopper to steal the ball and tee up his strike-partner Kelman, who thundered a shot beyond Josef Bursik to give Blues an early lead.
The chance was superbly taken by the 18-year-old whose goal clearly rattled the home side who’d started poorly, but John Coleman’s side would compose themselves and would quickly equalise.
A short corner out to Sam Finley was crossed towards the far post, finding the head of Mark Hughes whose header back across goal was nodded in from close range by Dion Charles.
Accrington’s response and equaliser had turned the momentum in their favour and Stanley had a number of good opportunities to grab a second go begging before the half-time interval.
Finley – who looked a danger every time he had the ball – got played in by a cute Jordan Clark pass only for Mark Oxley to spread himself well to make the save from a tight angle.
Stanley’s top goalscorer, Colby Bishop, then had a guilt-edged chance come and go when Oxley misjudged a Finley cross, but Bishop couldn’t direct his header on target with the goal gaping.
Accrington continued to have the better of the chances as the half wore on but Southend looked threatening too when going forward, with Hopper having a good headed chance go wide.
And before the half was over, Oxley would be needed again to keep Bishop at bay after an error from Rob Kiernan lead to a Bishop chance at Oxley’s near-post which he saved well.
The half-time interval allowed Campbell’s side to regroup and they began the second-half brightly before retaking the lead from the penalty spot after a foul on Brandon Goodship.
Goodship was first to a loose ball inside the box and was adjudged to have been brought down by Joe Pritchard, with Jason Demetriou calmly rolling the spot-kick beyond Bursik to put Blues in front again.
Lead now restored, Southend would frustrate the home side who were unable to respond as quickly as they had done in the first-half with Blues edging closer to a first league win since September.
Accrington were looking short of ideas and a third goal for Blues would have almost certainly sealed Campbell his first league win as Blues boss and the visitors had two great chances to wrap it up.
The first fell to sub Sam Barratt who got on the end of a loose ball before firing his half-volley straight at Bursik who was needed again seconds later as he parried away Sam Mantom’s rebound.
Barratt’s introduction had given Blues a spark and after forcing a save out of Bursik, he went even closer to a crucial third when he hit the post with a free-kick from 25-yards out.
With only one goal in it, Accrington still had a chance and Charles curled an effort just over the crossbar as time began to run out on Coleman’s side.
Five minutes of added on time were shown but Southend remained untroubled and the full-time whistle blew to jubilant scenes from the 233 travelling Blues fans as Campbell picked up his first league win.
Accrington Stanley XI: Bursik, Johnson (Zanzala 70’), Hughes, Sykes, Clark, Finley, Pritchard, Bishop, Conneely (C) (Diallo 78’), Charles, Alese. Subs Not Used: Savin, Sherif, Maguire, Barclay, Rodgers
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Milligan, Dieng (C) (Goodship 10’), Hopper, McLaughlin, Kiernan, Mantom, Kelman (Barratt 75’), Demetriou, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Hutchinson, Rush, Phillips, Kinali
Referee: Antony Coggins
Assistants: Robert Akin & Connor Brown
Fourth Official: Helen Edwards
Accrington Stanley: Dion Charles 17’
Southend United: Charlie Kelman 11’, Jason Demetriou (p)51’
Accrington Stanley: Colby Bishop 80’
Southend United: None
Attendance: 2,146 (233 Away Fans)