SOUTHEND United’s struggles continued with a 2-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion’s under 21 team at Roots Hall tonight.

The setback was the Shrimpers’ 11th in 14 games this season and was also their second in succession in the Trophy.

The disappointing clash was watched by a club record low crowd of just 641 as Blues failed to trouble their young opposition.

Southend made nine changes to Saturday’s starting line-up with Timothee Dieng making his first appearance of the season after recovering from two calf injuries.

Only Rob Kiernan and Stephen McLaughlin remained from the side which faced Accrington Stanley at the weekend.

But it was Brighton who threatened early on with Peter Gwargis having a deflected left footed free-kick tipped wide of the left post by Blues’ goalkeeper Nathan Bishop.

In reply, Stephen McLaughlin sent a long range effort wide of the left post before the winger saw another effort deflected wide of the opposite upright after a long burst forward from Andre Blackman.

Brighton hit back with Ryan Longman firing wide of the right post while under pressure from Rob Kiernan before play switched back to the other end of the field with Layton Ndukwu dragging a 25 yard shot wide of the right post.

However, just six minutes into the second half, Brighton opened the scoring with Taylor Richards on target.

Richards capitalised on a slip from Kiernan to cut in from the right hand side and unleash a low left footed shot from 20 yards which Bishop could only help push into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Moments later, Longman headed wide of the left post before the striker wasted a golden opportunity to double Brighton’s lead as he somehow fired wide of the left post after a defensive mix up left him completely unmarked 12 yards from goal.

Blues’ caretaker boss Gary Waddock responded by making a double change in the 61st minute as Emile Acquah replaced Dieng and Terrell Egbri took the place of McLaughlin for his first team debut.

However, Brighton remained on top with Jordan Davies having a long range effort gathered by Bishop at the second attempt before Blues replied with Acquah having a close range effort diverted wide of the target by defender Warren O’Hora.

In a further bid to get the Shrimpers back into the game, Blues brought on top goalscorer Stephen Humphrys in place of Ndukwu.

And, in the 76th minute, the hosts came within a whisker of drawing back level as Egbri slammed a left footed shot from 25 yards against the inside of the left post.

But, after surviving the scare, Brighton doubled their lead five minutes later with Warren O’Hora flicking home Archie Davies’ left wing corner.

The visitors also wasted a huge chance to make it 3-0 late on with Bojan Radulovic firing wide of the right post when clean through on goal.