SOUTHEND United kicked off the 2020/21 campaign with a 1-0 defeat at Gillingham in the first round of the Carabao Cup this afternoon.

The Shrimpers – who were bossed by Mark Molesley for the first time in a competitive fixture – produced a spirited performance.

But a first half header from Connor Ogilvie proved to be the difference between the two teams – despite the Gills playing the final 32 minutes with 10 men.

Gillingham defender Ryan Jackson was shown a second yellow card after bringing down the lively Jordan Green.

However, the Shrimpers were unable to take advantage of their extra man.

Blues began brightly with Isaac Hutchinson having a goalbound effort blocked in front of goal, with the rebound just evading Brandon Goodship.

Moments later, Elvis Bwomono saw a long-range effort smothered by Gills shot-stopper Jack Bonham before the custodian also gathered a low effort from Green after a bright burst forward from the winger.

Green then just failed to connect with an inviting right wing cross from Bwomono before Hutchinson sent a long range effort wide of the left post.

In reply, Gills’ Vadaine Oliver headed Kyle Dempsey’s right wing free-kick wide of the left post at the back post.

But, in the 27th minute, the hosts broke the deadlock with Dempsey’s right wing corner finding the head of Ogilvie whose glancing effort flew into the left hand side of the net.

Dempsey then a sent long range effort fizzing over the crossbar before the Shrimpers hit back with Charlie Kelman flashing a 20 yard shot wide of the left post.

After the break, the Gills wasted a golden chance to double their lead when Oliver headed Jackson’s right wing cross wide of the left post from close range.

But, after surviving the scare, the Shrimpers soon replied with Hutchinson having a skimming 20 yard shot well held by Bonham.

With 58 minutes on the clock, Gills were reduced to 10 men when Jackson was shown a second yellow card after pulling back Green.

Five minutes later, Blues made their first change of the afternoon with Lewis Gard replacing Timothee Dieng in the centre of the park.

The Shrimpers made an attacking alteration in the 70th minute with Stephen Humphrys replacing left-back Richard Taylor and the visitors soon came close to equalising with Hutchinson curling a 25 yard free-kick against the left post.

With Blues continuing to push for an equaliser, Kelman then headed Bwomono’s right wing cross wide of the left post before the visitors made their final change in the 87th minute with Eren Kinali replacing Terrell Egbri.

Gard then saw a late effort smothered by Bonham before Kelman swapped passes with Humphrys and send a powerful shot against the outside of the right post.