Southend Utd 3

(Atkinson 9, Barnard pen 16, Loza 86)

Oxford Utd 0

Oxford United were blown away by Southend United as Gary Waddock's reign began with a heavy defeat at Roots Hall.

The result looked likely inside the opening 20 minutes as the hosts made the most of a nervous start.

They raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to Will Atkinson's neat finish and a penalty by Lee Barnard.

Ryan Clarke conceded the spot kick but more than made amends with a series of excellent saves to keep United in the game.

They were unable to take a couple of decent chances and Southend added a third late on through man of the match Jamar Loza.

The result was Southend's first win in two months to send them back into the play-off places and leave United looking nervously over their shoulders.

Oxford Mail:

New boss Gary Waddock salutes the Oxford fans at the start

Waddock's first selection showed three changes from the side which started Friday's 1-0 home win over Hartlepool United.

Deane Smalley, Danny Rose and Alfie Potter came in for David Connolly, Andy Whing and Ryan Williams, who dropped to the bench.

The seeds of an uncertain performance were sown inside the opening minute.

Jake Wright played Sam Long into trouble and Loza blocked the youngster's clearance.

Fortunately for United the ball ricocheted for Clarke to race out and smother, but it was began a torrid opening 20 minutes.

The impressive Loza, making his first start on loan from Norwich City, had a role in the opening goal, which arrived on nine minutes.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford United captain Jake Wright controls the ball

United failed to cut out a pass to the striker, who had pulled wide to the left.

His cross reached Atkinson and the midfielder finished crisply from eight yards.

Just as in their 3-0 defeat to Chesterfield ten days earlier, one early goal led to another for United.

Again Loza was heavily involved, running on to a long ball and pressurising Wright into a weak header which allowed he striker to beat Clarke to the ball.

The goalkeeper's momentum floored Loza for a penalty, which Barnard coolly dispatched.

Southend, who had not won in 12 league games, were full of confidence and only a smart save from Clarke prevented Michael Timlin from extending the lead.

It took almost half a hour for United, who badly missed Whing's steel in the middle of the park, to seriously threaten.

When the chance came it was a good one, as David Hunt's corner found an unmarked James Constable to volley off-target.

But Loza remained the most dangerous player on the pitch. On 33 minutes he outmuscled a panicky Long in the area and cut inside, where Clarke was needed to make another decent stop.

United might have been out of the game, but having ridden their luck the visitors had a chance to get back in it late in the half.

Hunt's corner was met firmly by Smalley's header, but Kevan Hurst was in the right place to clear off the line.

The first half display gave Waddock plenty of food for thought at the break, but United had another chance shortly after the restart.

Hunt's long throw just cleared a defender and Constable, not expecting the ball to reach him, could only chest it wide.

Oxford Mail: .

Oxford United's Josh Ruffels knocks the ball forward

A goal would have brought them right back into the game, but a lack of quality hampered the odds of a comeback.

Southend looked far more dangerous and only a series of fine saves after the hour from Clarke kept the contest alive.

After tipping a fierce Hurst drive over, he made an even better stop from the resulting corner to divert John Egan's header over the bar with his knee.

The defender was denied again two minutes later after winning another header at a corner.

United continued to probe without much joy, as all the clear chances came at the other end.

Clarke was forced into another excellent tip over the bar after Ryan Leonard's 30-yard effort took a wicked deflection.

The pressure finally told four minutes from time and it was no surprise the inspiration came from Loza.

Showing great strength to hold off Wright twice, the striker shows the U's skipper a clean pair of heels before smashing a finish past Clarke.

It was no less than he, or Southend, deserved and suggested Waddock has lots to do before Saturday's trip to Dagenham & Redbridge.

Southend Utd (4-4-2): Bentley, White, Egan, Sokolik, Coker, Hurst, Leonard, Timlin (Laird 68), Atkinson, Barnard (Straker 87), Loza.

Unused subs: Smith, Prosser, Eastwood, Clifford, Payne.

Booked: None.

Oxford Utd (4-4-2): Clarke, Bevans, Long, Wright, Hunt, Potter, Rose, Ruffels, Rigg, Smalley, Constable Subs used: Williams (Rigg 55), Davies (Rose 65), Connolly (Constable 80).

Unused subs: Crocombe, Raynes, Wroe, Whing.

Booked: None. 

Southend Utd (4-4-2): Bentley, White, Egan, Sokolik, Coker, Hurst, Leonard, Timlin (Laird 68), Atkinson, Barnard (Straker 87), Loza.

Unused subs: Smith, Prosser, Eastwood, Clifford, Payne.

Booked: None.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).

Attendance: 6,078 (175 visitors).