Bradford City dropped out of the League One automatic promotion places after a miserable 3-0 defeat at Southend United.
Stuart McCall’s men went behind after 15 minutes when former Bantams midfielder Will Atkinson beat the off-side trap and scored past Colin Doyle from 12 yards.
Romain Vincelot headed onto the bar as Bradford searched for a first half equaliser but it was the hosts, managed by Phil Brown, who enjoyed the majority of the chances.
Mark Marshall flashed wide early in the second half before Nathaniel Knight-Percival had an effort cleared off the line.
But just as Bradford looked the more threatening, Atkinson returned to haunt his former side again when he rifled a half-volley into the bottom corner.
City searched for a way back into the game but any hopes of a fightback were well and truly ended when Vincelot turned Nile Ranger’s cross into his own net, via the post.
The loss was only Bradford’s second of the season and saw them fall down to fourth, with Bolton and Sheffield United leapfrogging them.
McCall said: “I’m not coming off despondent. It didn’t feel like a 3-0.
“Obviously the first goal is a blatant handball and he’s admitted it. They are a good side and didn’t need a helping hand!
“But we had two or three lads who’ve been brilliant for us all season who were just under-par today.
“We don’t finger-point or blame anyone but how we’ve not scored. We’ve had opportunities and in large spells have played well.
“We were sloppy at times in the first half when we tried to play out but we’ll never stop them trying to play the right thing.
“Nobody likes getting beaten but I’ve been in games when we’ve lost 3-0 and felt terrible. But I don’t feel like that today.”