Southend’s EFL Trophy campaign came to an end as they were beaten 3-0 by Portsmouth thanks to goals from John Marquis and a brace from Ronan Curtis at Roots Hall.
Blues knew going into this evening that defeat would spell the end of their campaign at the group stages and they faced a tough test to keep their hopes of the knockout rounds alive against League One side Portsmouth.
The visitors, who are not only the holders of the trophy but also one of the finalists in last season’s yet to be rearranged final, were on the front foot from the start and saw Ben Close and Ryan Williams shoot just wide before Rasmus Nicolaisen fired over from a Pompey set-piece.
Williams forced a first save of the evening out of Oxley who had to use his feet to get a low strike away from danger before Southend had their first chance of the evening when Tom Clifford had a free-kick in scoring range that struck the Portsmouth wall.
Clifford though would give the visitors the chance to open the scoring when he brought down Haji Mnoga inside the box for a penalty. John Marquis stepped up to confidently send Oxley the wrong way and put Portsmouth into the lead.
Blues responded well with Timothee Dieng glancing a Terell Egbri free-kick towards goal that needed to be saved by goalkeeper Alex Bass, but Pompey would double their advantage before the break after a Ronan Curtis 30-yard strike took a wicked deflection to deceive Oxley.
Mark Molesley didn’t want to take any further risk with Dieng’s fitness so he was replaced at the interval by Kenny Coker, but Molesley was forced into a second change shortly after the break when Lewis Gard’s evening ended with him leaving on a stretcher.
The young midfielder had previously suffered a severe knee injury in this competition two years ago and he appeared to be in a lot of pain as he left the field. After an extended stoppage in play, he was replaced by Oli Coker for his Southend debut.
Portsmouth looked to push home their advantage and saw chances for Cameron Pring and Nicolaisen go begging before Harry Kyprianou forced a superb fingertip save out of Bass with a header that needed tipping over the bar.
New signing Ashley Nathaniel-Geroge was brought on with a quarter of an hour remaining but he was unable to turn the fortunes of Blues who fell further behind when Curtis curled in a second of the evening as Southend bowed out of the EFL Trophy at the group stages.
Blues XI: Oxley (C), Hobson, Dieng (K Coker 46’), Egbri, Clifford, Gard (O Coker 52’), Phillips, Acquah (Nathaniel-George 74’), Rush, R Taylor, Kyprianou. Subs Not Used: Seaden
Portsmouth XI: Bass, Downing, Williams (Morris 88'), Close (C), Marquis, Curtis (Johnson 80’), Bolton, Cannon, Nicolaisen, Pring, Mnoga. Subs Not Used: MacGillivray, Harrison, Harness, Raggett, Jacobs
Referee: Paul Howard
Assistants: Stephen Finch & Scott Williams
Fourth Official: Andy Bennett
Southend United: None
Portsmouth: John Marquis (p)21’, Ronan Curtis 40’, 78’
Southend United: Matt Rush 35’, Kenny Coker 59’, Richard Taylor 84’
Portsmouth: James Bolton 79’