Colchester United’s interest in this season's Checkatrade Trophy was ended tonight after they were beaten 2-0 at Essex rivals Southend United.

The U’s had to win their final Group B match at Roots Hall to progress to the knockout stages of the much-maligned competition.

But a much-changed Colchester side featuring nine changes from the side that started their FA Cup defeat against Oxford City were deservedly beaten by their League One hosts.

Frankie Kent and Tom Eastman were the only players who started the 1-0 loss, with the likes of Rene Gilmartin, Nicke Kabamba and Sanmi Odelusi handed rare starts.

Kane Vincent-Young returned after three weeks out with a hamstring injury, while Sammie Szmodics was among the substitutes after six weeks out with an ankle problem.

Southend were the better side in the first half and started as they meant to go on when in the opening minute, Odelusi almost scored an own goal when a Southend corner hit him at the near post and sailed inches wide.

Stephen McLaughlin controlled and hooked a fine shot just wide of the target and a few minutes later, the attacker’s free-kick sailed inches wide of the post with Gilmartin beaten.

Jermaine McGlashan side-footed a gilt-edged chance over from Ryan Leonard’s cross as Blues pressed for an opening in the early stages.

But Colchester slowly warmed to the task and Southend defender Michael Turner was forced to clear from near his own goal-line, after Kabamba had been released by Odelusi.

But Gilmartin made a fine save to deny Nile Ranger from point-blank range after Robinson had a shot blocked before seconds later the hosts felt they should have had a penalty when Ryan Leonard tumbled under Vincent-Young’s challenge on the edge of the area.

Michael Timlin curled a shot straight at Gilmartin and McLaughlin’s free-kick into the area headed on by Kent but Leonard couldn’t steer the ball into net, as the hosts pressed.

And Southend eventually made a breakthrough in the 37th minute through Josh Wright, who calmly headed in from close range after Gilmartin could only push McLaughlin’s long-range effort into his path.

It was Wright’s first-ever goal for Blues and it was almost 2-0 soon after when Gilmartin pushed over Timlin’s long-range effort, as Colchester went in trailing at the break.

And things got even worse for the U’s, four minutes after the break.

Robinson picked up possession just outside the Colchester box and went past two defenders before hooking a low left-foot shot past Gilmartin.

Frankie Kent cleared Ranger’s effort off the line after a goalmouth scramble, as Southend threatened to stretch their lead further.

McGreal sent on Szmodics for Cameron James and switched to four at the back, in a bid to try and find a route back into the game.

But Gilmartin denied Wright after Timlin’s fine pass had split the defence before Southend squandered a chance to seal their win in the 89th minute.

Substitute Simon Cox smacked a penalty against a post after White had been fouled by Kent in the area but Colchester were comfortably beaten.