Southend’s winning run at home came to an end as Cambridge United came from behind to beat Blues 2-1 at Roots Hall.
The home side had much the better of the first-half and deservedly took the lead when Simeon Akinola headed in from a Sam Hart corner midway through the half.
But Jack Iredale levelled things up straight after the restart with a well-taken effort off the underside of the crossbar, before Joe Ironside tapped in from close range to secure the win for the visitors.
Defeat for Blues leaves them bottom of the League Two table ahead of two more home games against Mansfield and Bradford, while Mark Bonner’s Cambridge climbed to the top of the table.
Blues went into tonight knowing that a win would’ve seen them climb out of the relegation zone and with that prize in the mind, Mark Molesley made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Grimsby with Alan McCormack, Emile Acquah and Greg Halford coming in.
The visitors Cambridge though knew that a win for them could see them climb to the top of the League Two table, but it was Southend who were by far the most threatening side in the opening 45 minutes at Roots Hall.
Simeon Akinola chanced his arm in the opening minute but fired high and wide before having an unexpected chance 10 minutes later when he looked to be miles offside. The linesman’s flag stayed down only for Dimitar Mitov to pull off a smart save one-on-one.
The windy conditions were making life difficult for Mitov who was almost caught out by a Sam Hart corner kick which caught in the wind and came crashing off the post before Mitov made a brilliant reaction save minutes later to prevent Timothee Dieng from heading in from close range.
Southend would break through the Cambridge defences in the 27th minute as Akinola scored his second goal for Blues by nodding in Hart’s corner. Mitov came off his line but couldn’t get to the ball before the Blues striker who nodded into the empty net.
The home side were well worth their lead but Cambridge did have a great chance to level things before the interval when Paul Mullin’s free-kick was fumbled by Mark Oxley, only for Paul Digby to fail to convert on the rebound as Southend went into the break one goal to the good.
That lead though wouldn’t last long after the restart as Cambridge equalised inside the first minute of the second-half through Jack Iredale. The U’s defender chested down Harrison Dunk’s cross-field pass before rattling it in on the half-volley, kissing the underside of the crossbar on the way through.
Conceding so quickly after the restart would have been a hammer blow to Blues but they had a chance to immediately restore their lead when the ball ricocheted through to Acquah but the recovering Dunk done well to get back and block the striker’s shot.
It would be a chance that Southend would rue missing as Cambridge completed the turnaround midway through the second-half when Mullin got down the Blues left, smashing the ball across the face of goal for the grateful Joe Ironside to tap home from close range.
Southend needed a big response, and they were the width of the post away from parity when Akinola saw his effort from the edge of the area hit the outside of the post as goalkeeper Mitov stood motionless.
The home side were buoyed by the sign of seven added minutes at the end of the half to try and snatch an equaliser but they were unable to find a way through with two more huge home clashes to come this week against Mansfield and Bradford.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, McCormack (Clifford 82’), Hobson, Dieng, Akinola, Acquah (Hackett-Fairchild 59’), Halford (Nathaniel-George 73’), Demetriou (K Taylor 73’), Hart, White (C). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Howard, R Taylor
Cambridge United XI: Mitov, Knoyle, Iredale, Digby, Taylor (C), Darling, Mullin (O’Neil 90+6’), Dunk, Davies, May, Ironside. Subs Not Used: Burton, Okedina, Cundy, Knibbs, Worman, Neal
Referee: Robert Madley
Assistants: Daniel Cook & Stephen Brown
Fourth Official: Ryan Whitaker
Southend United: Simeon Akinola 27’
Cambridge United: Jack Iredale 46’, Joe Ironside 68’
Southend United: Sam Hart 40’, Mark Oxley 90+6’
Cambridge United: Paul Digby 40’