Southend manager Paul Sturrock praised strike duo Gavin Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga as the in-form Shrimpers ended Torquay United's eight-match unbeaten home league record with a 4-1 win.

Tomlin opened the scoring on 10 minutes before Assambalonga made it 2-0 on a 39th-minute lightning break. The on-loan Millwall striker then headed Southend into a 3-0 lead in the 44th minute and a minute after half time Tomlin doubled his tally with a clinical finish.

Sturrock said: "You have to give the front two credit, they ran them ragged. Their hold up play was good and they scrapped for everything.

"Gavin has got three in three now and is a great foil for Britt, who is an exciting player. I am glad to have Britt back on the score sheet because he was starting to worry me with all that superstitious stuff about what boots to wear.

"We are disappointed to concede a goal but we will take 4-1 away from home any day. We came to a very good side, they have got a system that works for them and they are very difficult to break down.

"But this team is beginning to gel and mould. It was frustrating at the start of the season because we couldn't get our hands on the right personnel. But now it is onwards and upwards. We don't see to have a problem against the teams above us."

Torquay substitute Ryan Jarvis volleyed a 52nd-minute consolation goal for the Gulls, who had skipper Lee Mansell red carded for a foul on Assambalonga in the 56th minute, and Torquay boss Martin Ling admits his side's chances of a comeback were extinguished when Mansell saw red.

"Once Lee Mansell went there was no hope of a fightback," he said. "We talked about a comeback at half time and went 4-4-2. Craig Easton and Damon Lathrope came off but it could have been any two from the 11 that came off because 3-0 down at half time there is only so much you can do and everyone was poor.

"It was a bad day at the office, from the first minute to the last. All I would say is that we have got an honest group of players and there are still some of the younger boys out there who are learning the trade.

"Southend are a quality team, certainly in terms of today. They showed us what it is all about and made us look very poor on the day and that is down to me as the manager, the coaching staff and the players out there. We will all be in it together."