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Oxford United 0 Southend United 2 (Clifford 13, Prosser 30)
A POOR first half proved costly as Southend United inflicted a second successive home defeat on Oxford United.
Conor Clifford made the most of a sloppy clearance from Asa Hall to give the Shrimpers a 13th-minute lead.
An unmarked Luke Prosser doubled the advantage against a shaky U's defence on the half hour mark.
The home side's flat performance could hardly have deteriorated and they did improve after the break.
Several chances were created to get back into the game, but no-one could find a way past Southend goalkeeper Dan Bentley.
His opposite number, Ryan Clarke, was also in good form to prevent the margin of victory from being more comprehensive, but it was a game to forget for the hosts.
Dave Kitson returned from suspension and came straight into the starting line-up, replacing Ryan Williams in the only change from the 3-1 win at Hartlepool a week earlier.
The veteran striker unlocked the Southend defence inside two minutes.
A lobbed pass released Deane Smalley through on goal. The striker never quite got the ball under control, but under pressure he managed to get a shot away, which slid past the far post.
Kitson also fizzed an effort just wide from long range in a promising opening for the hosts, but it quickly unravelled.
Southend, who came into the game on a six-game winless streak, had already threatened through a Cauley Woodrow shot which was well held by goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.
On 13 minutes they opened the scoring when Asa Hall scuffed a clearance straight to Clifford, who seized on the opening to bury a finish into the net from 25 yards.
The visitors had a penalty appeal turned down when Barry Corr tumbled under a challenge from Johnny Mullins, before the hosts had a brief bright spell.
Sean Rigg snatched at a shooting chance on his right foot which flew well over, while Alfie Potter, who had barely had a touch in the opening half hour, crossed for Mullins to head firmly at Bentley.
But on 30 minutes another mistake allowed Southend to stretch their lead.
Hurst swung in a free-kick from the right which was met by Prosser, who had the freedom of the six-yard box to head past an exposed Clarke.
It almost got worse three minutes later, as a crumbling defence gifted another chance.
Mullins played Michael Raynes into trouble, allowing Southend to launch a counter-attack.
It was two-on-one, but Mullins atoned for his error by recovering to block Corr's shot and prevent a third goal.
After surviving an attack early in the second half, the home side went on to impose themselves for the first time.
Quick corners saw Hall have a back heel blocked, while Raynes headed narrowly over.
Southend were still a threat at the other end, with Clarke twice saving clear chances for Hurst.
But the U's, who brought on James Constable for Smalley, were the better side and should have pulled a goal back during a spell of pressure around the hour mark.
The clearest chance fell to Mullins, who got free at a corner, but his powerful header was blocked by Bentley.
Raynes had another header which beat Bentley but dropped just the wrong side of the crossbar.
With 20 minutes remaining U's boss Chris Wilder brought on Scott Davies and Callum O'Dowda.
For the latter it was a league debut and the teenage winger quickly laid on a glorious cross which Constable met with a diving header, only to see Bentley make another save.
At the other end, Clarke was keeping the game alive almost on his own.With 14 minutes remaining Woodrow ran through as United's defence appealed for offside, but the striker could not beat the goalkeeper, who made a smart block.
United were unable to exert any real pressure in the closing stages, as Southend were able to comfortably run down the clock for their first win in seven games.
Oxford Utd: Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Potter, Hall (Davies 70), Rose, Rigg (O'Dowda 70), Kitson, Smalley (Constable 54).
Unused subs: Crocombe, Williams, Bevans, Ruffels.
Southend Utd: Bentley, White, Thompson, Prosser, Coker, Clifford, Hurst (Straker 88), Atkinson, Leonard, Corr, Woodrow (Reid 85).
Unused subs: Smith, Timlin, Payne, Auger.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 5,578 (560 visitors).
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