SOUTHEND United’s slumped to within two points of the League One drop zone after suffering a shocking 4-1 defeat at Scunthorpe United tonight.

The out of form Shrimpers started the contest brightly and opened the scoring after just three minutes with Simon Cox firing home.

But Blues fell away in embarrassing fashion after the break to extend their winless streak to nine matches.

Southend – who have still yet to win at Glanford Park – were on top early on with Sam Mantom curling a 25 yard free-kick wide of the right post against his former side.

And the visitors did not have long to wait until breaking the deadlock with Cox firing Chris Powell’s side in front after just three minutes.

The striker was picked out by Sam Hart’s left wing cross and, after chesting the ball down, Cox sent a left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net from eight yards.

Scunthorpe soon hit back and came close to equalising when a quick free-kick led to Levi Sutton delivering a right wing cross which found Lee Novak, only for the striker to see his effort superbly saved by Nathan Bishop.

But the let off was only temporary for Blues as the hosts drew back level in fortuitous circumstances in the 23rd minute when Tom Pearce’s hopeful left wing cross flew into the top right hand corner of the net.

Blues soon replied with the lively Cox doing well to round Scunthorpe goalkeeper Jak Alnwick before seeing his effort from a narrow angle cleared off the goal-line by a sliding Rory McArdle.

However, after surviving the scare, Scunthorpe wasted a golden chance to take the lead when Novak’s flick opened up the Shrimpers defence for George Thomas, but the midfielder saw his effort impressively kept out by Bishop.

After the break, the Shrimpers threatened first with Timothee Dieng firing over from 20 yards after good work from the fit-again Jason Demetriou down the right flank.

But, after surviving the scare, Scunthorpe replied and took the lead in the 68th minute with another sloppy goal as Clayton Lewis’ right wing corner was deflected into the back of the net by Tony McMahon.

Five minutes later the Iron made it 3-1 when Bishop slipped while rushing off his line while attempting to reach Kevin van Veen’s knock down and Thomas gleefully made the most of the opportunity, tapping home from eight yards.

Blues boss Powell responded with a double change in the 77th minute as Stephen McLaughlin and Norman Wabo both entered the action.

But the substitutions came as the Shrimpers prepared to defend a set piece and the visitors again switched off as McMahon’s delivery from the right hand side was headed into the bottom right hand corner of the net by James Perch.

And the setback saw the Shrimpers slip to 18th in the League One standings.

Southend United (5-3-2): Bishop, Demetriou (McLaughlin 77), Moore, Turner, Lennon, Hart, Dieng, Hyam (Wabo 77), Mantom, Bunn (Kightly 83), Cox

Subs not used: Smith, Kiernan, Yearwood & Kelman