SOUTHEND United started the season with a dismal and depressing 4-0 defeat against Football League newcomers Harrogate Town at Roots Hall this afternoon.

Blues, who were relegated from League One last season, fielded an incredibly young starting line-up.

But it was men against boys as Harrogate powered their way to a convincing victory to further underline the Shrimpers’ need for new signings.

Blues registered the game’s first shot on target with centre-back Shaun Hobson sending a 20 yard effort straight at Harrogate goalkeeper Joe Cracknell.

The visitors hit back with Aaron Martin fizzing a long range shot inches over the crossbar but, with 23 minutes on the clock, Town made the breakthrough with their first ever goal in the Football League.

George Thompson’s right wing cross was controlled by Martin who then teed up Jack Muldoon to fire home from 12 yards.

Town soon wasted another great chance to score with an unmarked Martin failing to make a clean connection with a header Blues goalkeeper Mark Oxley easily held.

But Harrogate continued to look the more dangerous side and doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time with Lloyd Kelly unleashing a powerful long range effort Oxley could only parry into the left hand side of the net.

After the break, Blues hit back with Charlie Kelman having a header from Shaun Hobson’s right wing cross well saved by Cracknell low down to his right hand side.

Moments later, the Shrimpers came close to getting back in the game when an inviting left wing cross from Lewis Gard bounced back off the right post.

Harrogate hit back with Martin having an effort cleared off the line by Taylor but the visitors quickly extended their lead on the hour mark, in controversial fashion.

Play was allowed to continue despite Taylor being grounded with a head injury in the six yard box and Martin took full advantage as he turned to fire home with a powerful effort.

Town continued to threaten and made it 4-0 in the 69th minute when Muldoon curled an impressive effort into the top right hand corner of the net to complete a miserable first League match in charge for Blues boss Mark Molesley.