SOUTHEND United’s struggles continued with a 2-0 defeat at Leyton Orient in the Trophy tonight.

The Shrimpers – who have now been beaten eight times in nine games this season – went behind early on when Dan Happe headed home.

And Blues’ hopes of comeback were hit hard on the stroke of half-time when Isaac Hutchinson was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.

Kevin Bond’s side headed to Brisbane Road short of confidence and Orient took just six minutes to open the scoring as James Alabi’s right wing cross found Happe and the defender headed home from close range.

The O’s soon came close to doubling their lead in comical fashion when Alabi headed the ball over the advancing Mark Oxley.

But, with no-one else around him, Blues defender Harry Lennon slammed his attempted clearance against the left post before seeing the ball bounce to safety.

The Shrimpers replied with Andre Blackman having a low effort parried to safety by O’s goalkeeper Sam Sargeant before play switched back to the other end of the field with an unmarked Louis Dennis heading wide of the target.

After surviving the scare, Southend hit back with Emile Acquah heading Elvis Bwomono’s right wing cross over the bar before Isaac Hutchinson fired wide of the left post from 20 yards after a bright burst forward. However, Hutchinson was involved again for all the wrong reasons just before the break when he was needlessly red carded. The young midfielder reacted angrily to a challenge from Dale Gorman and pushed his rival to the floor with both hands.

Blues altered things at the break with Brandon Goodship replacing Layton Ndukwu but it was Orient who stayed on top with former Southend striker Matt Harrold heading Dale Gorman’s free-kick against the left post from 12 yards.

A sliding Alabi somehow failed to convert the rebound before Blues made their second change, in the 57th minute, with Simon Cox taking the place of Acquah.

But the O’s soon came close to doubling their lead with Jordan Maguire-Drew charging forward and sending a low, 20 yard shot wide of the right post. The Orient midfielder then saw another effort well saved to his right hand side by Oxley but Blues started to get back into the game with Goodship having a goalbound effort blocked by Marvin Ekpiteta.

And, in the 74th minute, the Shrimpers came even closer to equalising when Cox teed up Goodship whose low effort was impressively pushed to safety by Orient goalkeeper Sam Sargeant. Blues threatened again just moments later when Elvis Bwomono's right wing cross was slid wide of the left post from close range by Cox.

With the Shrimpers pushing for an equaliser, Goodship then dragged a low shot wide of target from 20 yards. But Orient sealed their win in the last minute when Gorman netted with a curling 20 yard shot into the left hand side of the net.

Blues: Oxley, Bwomono, Shaughnessy, Kiernan, Lennon, Blackman, Ndukwu (Goodship 46), Mantom, Hamilton, Hutchinson, Acquah (Cox 57)