Southend United slipped to their third defeat in a row with a much-improved display that warranted more against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park, following goals from former Blues centre back Peter Clarke and a deflected strike by James Vaughan.
Blues started the game on the front foot and just two minutes in, following some great linkup play by Elvis Bwomono and Kyle Taylor down the right, the latter put James Olayinka through on goal down a channel, however, the angle tightened up for the on-loan Arsenal youngster who smashed the ball towards goal, forcing some sharp reflexes by Scott Davies in the Tranmere goal.
In the 13th minute Blues had a penalty shout as Tom Clifford swung in a dangerous corner which Davies struggled to deal with and punched the ball towards Jason Demetriou. Demetriou beat his marker to the ball just inside the box and was brought down, however, the referee Andy Woolmer waved away the protests.
Southend came forward again and won a free-kick around 30 yards out as Olayinka burst onto a loose ball and was brought down. Kyle Taylor took the resulting free-kick and his effort shaved Scott Davies left-hand post.
On the half-hour mark, despite starting as the better of the two, Southend United fell behind to a goal from former Blues centre back Peter Clarke, who met Liam Feeney’s free-kick from the right-wing and thumped a free header past Mark Oxley from around 10 yards out.
Blues finished the half the stronger side as some good play in the middle of the pitch saw the ball played out wide to Tom Clifford who crossed the ball in towards Emile Acquah. The striker met the ball around eight yards out after battling with his marker, but the young striker couldn’t keep his effort down and blazed the ball over the crossbar.
Following the half-time break, Blues once again started as the brighter side as Nathaniel-George and Clifford linked up well down the left-wing, seeing the latter being teed up for a strike just inside the penalty area which was destined for the bottom corner of the Tranmere goal but was cleared away by Clarke.
Blues suffered another cruel blow in a game that they had played so well in, as in the 52nd minute James Vaughan took a shot from 25 yards out which took a wicked deflection off Tim Dieng and flew into Oxley’s bottom left corner to double the hosts’ advantage.
Kyle Taylor would again come close for Blues just before the hour mark, as he evaded two Tranmere challenges following a good pass from Olayinka and bared down on the penalty area before hammering a shot over the crossbar.
With 20 minutes to go, James Vaughan came close to adding a third for Tranmere from a set-piece, as Blues continued to struggle in areal duels from set-pieces. Thankfully, Oxley pulled off a great save, diving high to his left to tip the ball wide of the goal.
In the 74th minute, Blues had another penalty shout waved away by referee Woolmer, as Kazaiah Sterling was in on goal and looked to have been shoved down by Mark Ellis, but it was deemed that Ellis had not committed a foul by the referee.
With very little time remaining, Southend looked for a route back into contention as Bwomono fired a ball across the penalty area, which second-half substitute Brandon Goodship met, but couldn’t direct his header into the goal.
Mark Moseley’s men can take encouragement from this afternoon’s performance, despite the result not going his side’s way. Blues will be back in action on Tuesday as they look for their first league win of the season against Oldham Athletic at Roots Hall.
Tranmere Rovers Line-up: Scott Davies (C), Lee O’Connor (Sam Smith 30’), Peter Clarke, Mark Ellis, Liam Ridehalgh, Liam Feeney, Jack Young, Jay Spearing (Ollie Banks 82’), Kieron Morris, Otis Khan (Calum Macdonald 30’), James Vaughan.
Subs Not Used: Joe Murphy, Sid Nelson, Corey Blackett-Taylor, Jake Burton.
Southend United Line-up: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Tim Dieng, Harry Lennon, Tim Clifford, Terrell Egbri (Matt Rush 87’), James Olayinka (Brandon Goodship 69’), Jason Demetriou (C), Kyle Taylor, Ashley Nathaniel-George, Emile Acquah (Kazaiah Sterling 69’).
Subs Not Used: Harry Seaden, Shaun Hobson, Harry Phillips, Richard Taylor.
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Assistants: Steven Meredith, Nik Barnard
Fourth Official: Philip Dermott
Tranmere Rovers: Peter Clarke 31', James Vaughan 52'
Southend United: None
Tranmere Rovers: James Vaughan 83'
Southend United: None