FOUR second half goals saw a youthful Southend United side soundly beaten at promotion-pushing Peterborough United tonight.

The Shrimpers shut out their in-form hosts during an uneventful first half.

But Posh piled on the pressure after the break to record a convincing 4-0 victory at London Road.

The win was Peterborough’s sixth in succession and they came close to taking an early lead when Jack Taylor saw an early long range free-kick parried away by Blues goalkeeper Mark Oxley.

Moments later, Ivan Toney wasted a clear-cut chance to open the scoring, firing wide of the right post from 10 yards before the Shrimpers hit back with Stephen McLaughlin cutting the ball back into the path of Matt Rush whose effort was deflected wide of the left post.

Rush was one of three Blues youngsters handed their first starts with defender Miles Mitchell-Nelson and winger Terrell Egbri also named in the starting line-up by boss Sol Campbell.

Rush soon scuffed another effort – from Mark Milligan’s long throw – straight at Posh goalkeeper Christy Pym before hosts replied at the start of the second half with Toney heading Dan Butler’s free-kick straight at Oxley.

But, after surviving the scare, the Shrimpers came within a whisker of taking the lead when a deflected 25 yard shot from Milligan hit the inside of the left post before rolling across the face of goal.

Seconds later and, with 50 minutes on the clock, Posh broke the deadlock when Joe Ward advanced down the right hand side before rolling an inviting pass into the path of the on-rushing Siriki Dembele who netted with a neatly controlled low finish.

Blues replied with Rush curling a 20 yard shot wide of the right post before Peterborough doubled their lead in the 57th minute following another move down the right hand side.

This time the Shrimpers failed to clear a cross from Toney and Jack Taylor was on hand to power a well-struck 20 yard shot into the right hand side of the net.

In a bid to get back into the game, Blues boss Campbell made a double change in the 64th minute with strikers Emile Acquah and Charlie Kelman coming on in place of Rush and Sam Mantom.

Acquah entered the action having been recalled from his loan spell at Maidenhead United.

But Posh remained on top and made 3-0 in the 70th minute when Toney kept his cool to round Oxley and fire home from close range.

Four minutes later, the prolific Toney was celebrating again as he rose high to head Butler’s left wing corner into the top left hand corner of the net.

Posh almost added a fifth late on with Oxley doing well to deny George Boyd before Blues replied right at the death with Jason Demetriou having a powerful, 20 yard free-kick pushed away by Pym.