SOUTHEND United kicked off the new League One season with a 1-0 defeat away against Coventry City this afternoon.

Zain Westbrooke’s second half strike handed the Sky Blues their first victory in their newly adopted St.Andrew’s home.

But the Shrimpers – who were roared on by more than 1,000 travelling fans – came close to equalising late on with Joe Shaughnessy heading wide and Stephen Humphrys hitting the crossbar.

Coventry almost took an early lead when Jordan Shipley curled a 20 yard effort against the outside of the left post.

And, just moments later, the hosts threatened again with Wesley Jobello volleying wide of the opposite upright from close range.

Coventry continued to enjoy more of the ball and came even closer to taking the lead in the 28th minute when an awful touch from debutant defender Shaughnessy sent Jordy Hiwula running clean through on goal.

The striker rounded the advancing Mark Oxley but saw his effort brilliantly blocked on the line by a sliding Harry Lennon.

The game stayed goalless until the break when Blues boss Kevin Bond made his first change of the afternoon, with Isaac Hutchinson replacing Stephen McLaughlin.

However, the Sky Blues stayed on top and broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when Amadou Bakayoko cut in from the left flank and teed up Zain Westbrooke who drove a low 25 yard shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

Shrimpers boss Bond responded by making a double change in the 57th minute with Humphrys replacing Luke Hyam and the fit-again Simon Cox taking the place of Theo Robinson.

Shortly after the changes, the hosts nearly added a second when Jobello’s close range effort was impressively saved by Oxley.

But, after surviving the scare, Blues pushed forward and should have equalised in the 77th minute when Hutchinson’s left wing cross picked out Shaughnessy just eight yards from goal but the defender could only send his mistimed header wide of the left post.

The Shrimpers stayed on top with Nathan Ralph having a header from Sam Mantom’s left wing corner tipped over by Marko Marosi.

And, with just a minute remaining, the visitors came even closer to equalising when Mantom’s right wing free-kick was headed onto the crossbar by Humphrys.