TORQUAY United collapsed in the face of a confident and assured Southend side at Plainmoor.
They were three goals down at the break as the visitors created a string of chances and Torquay struggled to get into the game.
It took a double substitution at half time to spark any life into the home side.
Kevan Hurst drove a free kick wide for Southend in the third minute while Craig Easton blazed a half-volley over the Southend bar in the eighth.
Ex-Gull Gavin Tomlin gave the visitors the lead after 10 minutes when he outmanoeuvred Kevin Nicholson inside the Torquay box and fired in low past Gulls keeper Martin Rice.
Marc Laird forced two saves from Rice with shots from distance while Kevan Hunt also stung the Torquay keeper's hands from a free kick.
Britt Assombalonga dragged a shot just wide of the Torquay goal as the home side struggled to get into the game.
Damon Lathrope produced their first shot on target in the 33rd minute but Paul Smith saved with ease.
In the 37th minute Southend's Michael Timlin headed against his own bar as he cleared a Nathan Craig free kick.
Assombalonga made it 2-0 for Southend after 38 minutes, driving home off Joe Oastler after a clever one-two with Tomlin.
And the same player made it 3-0 on the stroke of half time with a header from close range after a cross from the right by Timlin.
Two minutes into the second half Tomlin scored a fourth for Southend, racing clear of Aaron Downes on a Timlin through ball and rounding Rice before rolling the ball across the line.
Moments later Assombalonga had the ball in the Torquay net yet again but his header was ruled out for offside.
Half-time sub Ryan Jarvis pulled a goal back for Torquay after 51 minutes, scoring from close range after a right wing cross by fellow sub Niall Thompson.
Torquay skipper Lee Mansell was sent off in the 57th minute for a high challenge on Assombalonga.
In the 79th minute Nathan Craig headed a Ryan Cresswell effort off the line for Torquay.
TEAMS: Torquay United - Martin Rice; Joe Oastler, Brian Saah, Aaron Downes, Kevin Nicholson; Damon Lathrope (Niall Thompson HT); Billy Bodin (Tom Cruise 60m), Lee Mansell, Craig Easton (Ryan Jarvis HT), Nathan Craig; Rene Howe.
Subs not used - Michael Poke, Daniel Leadbitter, Danny Stevens, Ashley Yeoman.
Goal - Ryan Jarvis 51mins
Yellow card - Rene Howe 62mins
Red card - Lee Mansell 57mins
Southend United - Paul Smith; Sean Clohessy, Ryan Cresswell, Mark Phillips, Chris Barker (Luke Prosser 70m); Tamika Mkandawire; Kevan Hurst, Michael Timlin, Marc Laird; Britt Asombalonga (Freddy Eastwood 84mins), Gavin Tomlin (Barry Corr 66m).
Subs not used - David Martin, Daniel Bentley, John Spicer, Alex Woodyard.
Goals - Gavin Tomlin 10mins, Britt Assombalonga 38mins, Britt Assombalonga 45mins, Gavin Tomlin 47mins
Yellow cards - Chris Barker 62mins, Mark Phillips 81mins
Referee - Andy Davies.
Attendance - 2,449 (205 away fans)
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