SOUTHEND United’s seven match unbeaten run was ended by a 1-0 defeat at struggling Torquay United this afternoon.

The Gulls came in to the game at a windswept Plainmoor Stadium with just one win in their last 12 outings.

But John Marquis’ 50th minute goal was enough for them to upset the form book and send the Shrimpers down to seventh in the League Two table.

The match, which was largely uneventful started in scrappy fashion before Blues midfielder Conor Clifford momentarily brought it to life when his well struck 25th minute shot from the edge of the penalty area was well held by Torquay goalkeeper Michael Poke.

The Gulls soon hit back with Damien Mozika sending a 12 yard header inches wide of the right post before Billy Bodin shot past the same upright from long range in the closing action of a disappointing opening period.

The Shrimpers stepped things up at the start of the second half with Barry Corr having a well struck 25 yard shot superbly tipped over the crossbar by Poke.

But, with 49 minutes on the clock, Corr wasted a golden chance to put Blues in front as, despite being left unmarked just eight yards from goal, the Irishman headed Kevan Hurst’s right wing cross well wide of the target.

The glaring miss soon increased in significance just seconds later when Torquay opened the scoring as Billy Bodin chipped a pass in to the path of Marquis who drilled an angled low, left footed shot in to the bottom right hand corner of the net from 16 yards.

The Gulls remained on top after the goal with Aaron O’Connor striking the crossbar and Bodin having a header well saved by Daniel Bentley during a hectic goalmouth scramble.

Jak McCourt then curled the resulting left wing corner against the crossbar before Blues boss Phil Brown made his first change of the match in the 54th minute as the fit again Ryan Leonard came on for Marc Laird in midfield.

Seven minutes later, Freddy Eastwood replaced Clifford as the Shrimpers changed to a 4-4-2 formation but the visitors still found it hard to get in to the game.

In the 73rd minute, Jack Payne came on for Anthony Straker as Southend made their final substitution of the game .

But Blues still rarely threatened and the closest they came to scoring late on was when a tame 12 yard shot from Corr was easily saved by Poke.