Blues fell to a third straight defeat in League Two as a brace from Gareth Evans and a first Bradford goal for striker Danny Rowe condemned Southend to a 3-1 defeat at Roots Hall.
After a period of pressure from the away side, Evans fired the visitors in front midway through the first-half after Callum Cooke had forced a smart save out of Mark Oxley giving Evans the opportunity to fire in the rebound into an empty net.
Elvis Bwomono’s first goal since scoring the winner against Lincoln close to a year ago brought Southend level but Rowe would slide Bradford back in front just shy of the hour mark before Evans’ second of the evening wrapped up the points for the Bantams.
Defeat for Southend leaves them rooted to the bottom of the League Two table, while Bradford remain unbeaten under the interim management pairing of Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars as the visitors climb to 18th.
Tonight was Blues’ third home game in the space of a week, but having not picked up a point from their previous two matches, this evening’s visit of Bradford was of huge significance for Mark Molesley’s side in their battle against the drop.
The Southend boss made three changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Mansfield at the weekend with Ashley Nathaniel-George and Jason Demetriou coming into the line-up as well as new-signing Tyler Cordner who’d come in on loan for the rest of the season from Bournemouth.
Blues had an early shout for a penalty waved off in just the ninth minute by referee Trevor Kettle when Simeon Akinola broke into the box before going down under pressure from Anthony O’Connor, but the ref was unmoved by the appeals.
Bradford came into the game unbeaten in their six games so far under interim managers Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars and they had a flurry of chances midway through the first 45 minutes which eventually lead to the Bantams taking the lead.
After Mark Oxley saved efforts from Levi Sutton and Danny Rowe, and Finn Cousin-Dawson’s header was deflected over, Callum Cooke broke through and forced another save out of Oxley only for Evans to be on hand to fire the rebound to put the Yorkshire side in front.
Blues though weren’t behind for long as Southend equalised through an unlikely source. After Reeco Hackett-Fairchild won a 50-50, Elvis Bwomono beat Connor Wood to the bouncing ball before firing across Sam Hornby and in off the inside of the post.
You’d have got good odds on the Southend right-back scoring and he should have scored again before the break when Hackett-Fairchild’s fizzed ball in was tipped out by Hornby. Bwomono picked up the loose ball but after setting himself he failed to find the target.
After the interval, Bradford’s newest recruit Rowe was making it his own personal mission to put the Bantams back in front, firstly seeing an effort from outside the box tipped onto the crossbar by Oxley before firing a first-time effort from 35-yards that needed tipping wide.
Rowe would eventually grab his first goal for his new club when Blues were caught out on the counter-attack. A two-on-one situation occurred when Cooke broke through before calmly playing in Rowe who slid it under the advancing Oxley to put the visitors back in front.
Southend needed to respond again and had a great chance go begging when Sam Hart’s cross found its way to Hackett-Fairchild in the box. The midfielder chested the ball down and fired in a vicious half-volley but was unable to keep his shot down.
And Blues would be made to pay for missing that opportunity as Bradford extended their lead with a quarter of an hour remaining. Cooke received the ball on the right-hand side before finding the run of Evans with a measured pass leaving Evans to seal the win for the Bantams.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Hobson, Cordner, Akinola, Hackett-Fairchild, Nathaniel-George, Demetriou (Acquah 83’), K Taylor, Hart, White (C) (R Taylor 77’). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Clifford, Halford, Stewart
Bradford City XI: Hornby, P O’Connor, A O’Connor, Cooke (Stevens 77’), Clarke (Burrell 84’), Evans (Scales 90+1’), Watt, Sutton, Wood, Cousin-Dawson, Rowe (Donaldson 84’). Subs Not Used: Huffer, Canavan, French
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Assistants: Damith Bandara & Conor Farrell
Fourth Official: Gareth Viccars
Southend United: Elvis Bwomono 31’
Bradford City: Gareth Evans 23’, 74’, Danny Rowe 57’
Southend United: Tyler Cordner 37’
Bradford City: None