SOUTHEND United’s disastrous season plunged to new depths with a 1-0 defeat at National League side Dover Athletic in the first round of the FA Cup this afternoon.

The Shrimpers – who are second from bottom in the League One standings – were undone by an 84th minute goal from Dover substitute Ruel Sotiriou.

And the setback means new boss Sol Campbell has now been beaten in his first four games in charge.

After a quiet start to the cup tie, Blues threatened with Isaac Hutchinson having a low 25 yard shot smothered by Dover goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin.

In reply, Dover’s Jai Reason then fired over from the edge of the penalty area before the Benfleet based midfielder saw another effort pushed wide of the left post by Blues goalkeeper Nathan Bishop.

The hosts came even closer to breaking the deadlock in the 37th minute when Jack Munns’ left wing corner struck Joe Shaughnessy before being cleared off the line by Shrimpers captain Timothee Dieng.

Blues replied with Ethan Hamilton having a long range effort smothered by Mersin before Stephen McLaughlin curled a 25 yard free-kick straight at Mersin.

The second half was also slow to get going and the Shrimpers were forced to make their first change on the hour mark with Rob Kiernan coming on to replace the injured Joe Shaughnessy.

Blues made two changes in the 72nd minute with Simon Cox and Emile Acquah coming on replace Brandon Goodship and McLaughlin.

But, five minutes later, the hosts wasted a good chance to break the deadlock when Aaron Simpson’s right wing cross picked out substitute Nassim L’Ghoul who sent his 12 yard header straight at Bishop.

However, Dover were not to be denied and the Kent club bagged what proved to be the winning goal six minutes from time when a long ball forward was misjudged by Harry Lennon, enabling Sotiriou to charge into the right hand side of the penalty area and blast a well struck shot into the left hand side of the net.

Blues wasted an immediate chance for an equaliser when Acquah opted not to shoot when well positioned in front of goal before the ball broke lose to Elvis Bwomono who fell to the floor – but referee David Rock awarded just a corner.

In reply, Reason curled a 20 yard shot against the top of the crossbar before Blues replied with Cox having a low effort easily saved by Mersin in the closing action of an embarrassiing afternoon for the Shrimpers.