A FIRST half header from Luke O’Nien condemned Southend United to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland this afternoon.

With Sol Campbell in charge of the Shrimpers away from home from the first time, the visitors produced a spirited showing without really threatening to score.

And that saw Blues’ winless streak stretch to eight games.

Sunderland, who were roared on by more than 30,000 fans - started on the front foot with Conor McLaughlin blasting an effort wide of the left post and a mis-hit right wing cross from Chris Maguire going over the crossbar.

Blues briefly rallied with Elvis Bwomono volleying Isaac Hutchinson’s left wing cross well wide of the target when on the slide.

But, with 20 minutes on the clock, the hosts hit back and broke the deadlock when Denver Hume’s left wing cross picked out an unmarked O’Nien who sent a firm header into the right hand side of the net from 12 yards.

Moments later, Aiden McGeady saw a long range effort smothered by recalled Shrimpers goalkeeper Nathan Bishop before the visitors hit back with Brandon Goodship scuffing a left footed shot from a promising position after Tom Hopper had headed Bwomono’s deep right wing cross down into his path.

After the break, the hosts’ Will Grigg headed over from 10 yards before McLaughlin’s effort from just outside the penalty area was comfortably held by Bishop.

Blues responded by making their first change of the afternoon in the 62nd minute with Emile Acquah replacing Goodship.

But Sunderland still threatened next with Aiden McGeady having a 20 yard shot pushed wide of the right post by Bishop before the Shrimpers goalkeeper also gathered O’Nien’s close range volley.

Moments later, the Black Cats’ Duncan Watmore fired just wide of the left post from 20 yards before the Shrimpers replied with Tom Hopper firing over from a similar distance.

In a further bid to get back into the game, Blues made a double change in the 78th minute with Luke Hyam replacing Mark Milligan and Matt Rush coming on for his first team debut in place of Hopper.

After the alterations, Simon Cox sent a long range effort straight at Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.

But the Shrimpers were unable to threaten again late on as they remain deep in trouble towards the foot of the League One table.