Southend United fell to a 2-0 defeat against Cheltenham Town at Roots Hall as goals from Liam Sercombe, from the penalty spot, and George Lloyd secured the points for The Robins.
The visitors went in front after 10 minutes when Kyle Taylor fouled Lloyd in the penalty area, with Sercombe stepping forward to take the spot-kick and squeeze the ball in through the legs of Mark Oxley.
Blues’ best opportunities fell to Brandon Goodship who had a couple of good chances in the first-half but Southend struggled to test Josh Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal, and the visitors would increase their lead shortly after the restart when Lloyd glanced in from Chris Hussey’s left-wing cross.
Defeat for Southend means they remain without a win so far this season while the win for the visitors lifted them into the automatic promotion places and just a point behind the early pacesetters, Cambridge United.
Southend had hoped to use the frustration of last weekend’s late Exeter equaliser to push them towards a first win of the campaign this afternoon and Mark Molesley made just the one change from last Saturday, as Elvis Bwomono came back into the side at the expense of Terrell Egbri.
Cheltenham travelled to Essex off the back of a midweek defeat to Grimsby but they started the game on the front foot and within three minutes they’d forced Mark Oxley into action when Chris Clements’ free-kick from the edge of the area was pushed away by the Blues stopper.
The visitors though would earn themselves an even better chance to open the scoring when Kyle Taylor was adjudged to have fouled George Lloyd inside the penalty area. Liam Sercombe stepped up to take the penalty and managed to squeeze it through the legs of Oxley to make it 1-0.
Southend had struggled somewhat to get going early on but they set about trying to find an equaliser, and Blues had a good chance to level when Jason Demetriou’s cross agonizingly came off the knee of Brandon Goodship who’d snuck in unmarked at the far post.
Goodship looked to be the main threat for Molesley’s side and the striker had another chance come and go after the referee played a good advantage for a clear foul on Demetriou. Goodship picked up the ball and fired towards goal only for his shot to take a deflection and go just wide.
Southend had shown good resolve after going a goal down, but they also had to defend well to prevent Cheltenham scoring again before the interval. Some brilliant defending from Shaun Hobson stopped Sercombe from getting in again, while Elliot Bonds and Lloyd both had efforts go off target.
The Robins continued to look the most threatening in the final third and were inches away from doubling their advantage when Andy Williams got goal-side and beat Oxley with his shot, only for Harry Lennon to heroically clear it off the line from underneath the crossbar.
Shortly after though Cheltenham would grab themselves a second of the afternoon and increase their advantage as Lloyd nodded in for the visitors. A wicked cross from the left from Chris Hussey found the run of Lloyd who got across his man to glance the ball into the bottom corner.
In response, Molesley threw on Egbri and Ashley Nathaniel-George whilst pushing Timothee Dieng into midfield, but Southend lacked the cutting edge needed to breakdown a stout Cheltenham defence who held firm.
Cheltenham would see out the afternoon confidently and secure the perfect response to that defeat to Grimsby on Tuesday, while Southend’s search for a first win of the season goes onto Tuesday where they travel to Salford City.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Ralph, Hobson, Dieng, Goodship (K Coker 83'), Sterling, Acquah (Nathaniel-George 56’), Demetriou (C), Lennon, K Taylor (Egbri 56’). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Clifford, Phillips, R Taylor
Cheltenham Town XI: Griffiths, Hussey, Tozer (C), Raglan (Freestone 88’), Clements, Blair, Williams, Boyle, Lloyd (May 82’), Bonds (Thomas 82’), Sercombe. Subs Not Used: Harris, Reid, Addai, Horton
Referee: James Oldham
Assistants: Paul Kelly & Michael Webb
Fourth Official: Joseph Stokes
Southend United: None
Cheltenham Town: Liam Sercombe (p)10’, George Lloyd 52’
Southend United: Jason Demetriou 67’
Cheltenham Town: None