Southend United exit the Emirates FA Cup at the First Round stage as they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Chesterfield at the Technique Stadium.
Despite going in front in just the fourth minute when Rhys Murphy marked his birthday with a delightfully taken goal, the Spireites responded with two goals in quick succession from Saidou Khan and Luke Croll.
Kabongo Tshimanga came off the bench to wrap up the win late on scoring within four minutes of coming off the bench with any hope of Blues making the second round draw fading when Sam Dalby skied a penalty in injury-time.
In the last knockings of added on time both teams were reduced to 10-men as a mele resulted in Calvin Miller and Zak Brunt being shown straight red cards as Chesterfield advanced to the second round at the expense of Blues.
Southend boss Kevin Maher – who was serving a one-game touchline ban – had named just the one change from the side than handily defeated Dover Athletic on Tuesday night as Nathan Ferguson came into the midfield in place of Harry Phillips.
And with confidence high following Blues’ first win under the new boss, Maher’s side got off to the perfect start in a crazy opening quarter of an hour that saw three goals scored in the space of 10 minutes.
The visitors in yellow went in front after just four minutes when Sam Dalby expertly held the ball up before playing a reverse pass into the path of birthday-boy Rhys Murphy, who lifted the ball over Melvin Minter to put Southend in front.
That lead though lasted less than a minute as Chesterfield responded immediately with Calvin Miller swinging in a vicious cross from the left that found the head of Saidou Khan to nod in the equaliser from close range.
The Spireites carried that momentum forward and would complete the turnaround after Steve Arnold had managed to keep Jak McCourt’s low shot out, but he wasn’t quite able to keep Luke Croll from squeezing in the rebound.
Arnold needed to be at his best to keep Chesterfield’s lead to one as he kept out Miller, who’d snuck in behind Rob Howard to get a header on goal, and just after the half-hour mark, Arnold was again called upon to prevent Jeff King’s stinging shot from going in.
Southend had chances to level before the interval with James Dunne slicing an effort wide of the mark, and Dalby was unfortunate not to grab an equaliser as Minter failed to deal with a Zak Brunt free-kick only for his strike at an empty goal to be headed over by Croll.
Attacking the goal in front of the vocal 291 travelling Southend fans in the second-half, Blues twice went close to levelling up matters but were denied by two superb saves from Minter who first stopped Dalby’s near-post header before clawing away a low strike from Murphy.
Southend’s hopes of making the hat for the second round draw though ended when Kabongo Tshimanga came off the bench to wrap up the victory. The striker managed to beat the offside trap to race through and score past Arnold just four minutes after coming off the bench.
Blues were giving the slimmest of lifelines in stoppage time when they won themselves a penalty as Minter shoved over substitute Matt Rush in the penalty area. Dalby though couldn't find the target as he stepped up and fired his spot-kick high over the crossbar.
That though wasn’t the end of the drama as both sides finished the game with 10-men after an off the ball tussle between both sets of players ended in Miller and Brunt being given their marching orders as Southend exited the competition.
Chesterfield XI: Minter, Miller, Oyeleke (C), Mandeville (Tshimanga 75’), McCourt (Weston 75’), King, Croll, Payne (Tyson 66’), Khan (Kellermann 64’), Whittle, Kerr. Subs Not Used: Loach
Blues XI: Arnold, Howard (Walsh 79’), Hobson, Bridge, Dunne, Murphy (Dennis 87’), Dalby, Ferguson (Rush 73’), Lopata, Brunt, White (C). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Egbri, Phillips, Atkinson, Sayers, David
Referee: Scott Simpson
Assistants: Steve Durnall & Scott Chalkley
Fourth Official: Gareth Thomas
Chesterfield: Saidou Khan 5’, Luke Croll 14’, Kabongo Tshimanga 79’
Southend United: Rhys Murphy 4’
Chesterfield: Stefan Payne 48’, Jeff King 71’
Southend United: None
Chesterfield: Calvin Miller 90+7’
Southend United: Zak Brunt 90+7’
Attendance: 4,713 (291 Away)