Tom Pope’s second-half double ensured Southend’s wait for a league win goes on as Blues fell to a 2-0 defeat to Port Vale at Roots Hall.
Southend were indebted to goalkeeper Mark Oxley for keeping The Valiants out until the second-half, with the Blues stopper twice preventing former Blue David Worrall with reaction saves before saving a header from Pope in the closing seconds of the first-half.
But Oxley was unable to stop the Vale striker from breaking the deadlock shortly after the restart when Worrall teed up the striker with a cross to the far post which was headed in from a tight angle by The Valiants’ number nine.
Pope would then double the visitors’ advantage by heading in a cross from the right, this time from David Amoo, with his arching header giving Oxley no chance and securing Port Vale a second straight win and a third in their last four matches.
Meanwhile, Southend’s wait for a first league win continues into November with Pope’s brace condemning Blues to a fifth straight defeat in League Two, leaving them bottom of the table with two points from their opening 10 games of the season.
For the final game of eight in a packed October schedule, Mark Molesley had made three changes to his Blues side that had been beaten by Oldham in midweek with Shaun Hobson, Brandon Goodship and Kazaiah Sterling coming into the starting line-up for Southend.
The afternoon was also a landmark occasion for Southend’s right-back Elvis Bwomono, who at the age of 21 was making his 100th appearance for Blues, making him the sixth youngest in the club’s history to achieve that feat.
Bwomono will have wanted to celebrate his achievement with three points, but it was a former Southend United man that almost put the visitors in front inside a minute when David Amoo’s cross was nodded down towards goal by David Worrall only for Mark Oxley to make a brilliant save.
Oxley showed fantastic reactions to keep the ball out and he was needed again on the quarter-hour mark when Amoo again got a low cross into the box. The ball ran through to Tom Conlon who hit the post with his strike before Oxley saved Worrall’s follow-up with his legs to keep it level.
Southend were having plenty of the ball but were finding it difficult to create chances as Port Vale continued to apply the pressure with Scott Burgess having an effort deflect just wide before Nathan Smith had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be chalked off for offside.
And before the interval The Valiant’s had another chance to go in front when Mitch Clark clipped a ball into the box, finding the head of Tom Pope whose powerful header on goal was only matched by another top drawer save from Oxley, springing across to his right to parry it away.
Oxley’s defences though would be breached by Pope just three minutes after the restart as Port Vale found the breakthrough. A loose ball out from Oxley was picked up by Worrall who flighted a ball towards the back post, leaving Pope to head in from a tight angle and put Vale 1-0 up.
The goal was Pope’s first goal of the season and it was quickly followed up by a second in similar circumstances to the first. This time, a cross from the right from Amoo found the head of Pope who arched his header beyond the despairing dive of Oxley to double Port Vale’s advantage.
Southend were unable to respond to Pope’s double and the striker was desperately unlucky not to grab a hat-trick with 10 minutes of the game remaining as a left-wing cross was nodded down to Pope whose shot deflected onto the underside of the crossbar before being cleared.
Vale goalkeeper Scott Brown was untested as the visitors saw out time, securing them a third win in their last four while Blues’ wait for a league win goes onto next week when they travel to The Utilita Energy Stadium to take on Bradford City on Tuesday.
Blues XI: Oxley (C), Bwomono, Hobson, Olayinka, Dieng, Goodship (Acquah 72’), Egbri (Demetriou 68’), Clifford, Sterling, Lennon, K Taylor (Nathaniel-George 65’). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Phillips, R Taylor, K Coker
Port Vale XI: Brown, Crookes, Joyce, Legge (C), Smith, Worrall, Pope, Conlon, Clark, Amoo (Mills 82’), Burgess. Subs Not Used: Visser, Robinson, Cullen, Brisley, McKirdy, Hurst
Referee: Tom Nield
Assistants: Darren Blunden & Alasdair Ross
Fourth Official: Stuart Butler
Southend United: None
Port Vale: Tom Pope 48’, 64’
Southend United: Harry Lennon 85'
Port Vale: Leon Legge 22’, Mitch Clark 83’