Between them these sides had scored two goals in seven games and had lost the lot. So this was never going to be a goal fest.
Tes Bramble won it for Southend 12 minutes from time finishing well after a bad Rovers mistake near a corner flag.
It was their fourth away win but Rovers' fourth home defeat.
With his Bristol connections Southend's boss Rob Newman, who played his early football with Bristol City, had his homework done for him.
He set out to pressure Rovers and his side almost broke through in the first minute when Tom Scully was let in by Simon Bryant.
Centre back Adam Barrett raced across for a fine clearance and was soon finding strong support from Chris Plummer who is on a month's loan from QPR.
Plummer gave his temporary club something they had been missing, authority in the air.
Neither keeper had much to do but in Rovers' goal Scott Howie made one important stop when he dropped quickly to smother Damon Searle's shot from a corner.
He had an escape though near to half time when he was stranded well off his line after running out to challenge Barrington Belgrave.
'The net yawned but Tes Bramble's enterprising long lob bounced off the bar.
Early on Adrian Coote had the ball in the Southend net but was offside.
Rovers' best efforts came from his partner Paul Tait who worked hard from deep positions to get something out of the game.
He was denied a goal just short of the hour when Southend's acting captain and keeper Darryl Flavahan thrust out an arm to divert a snap shot.
After having the best of the first half Southend were forced onto the back foot for a long spell by a revitalised Rovers midfield where Wayne Carlisle replaced David Lee who goes back to Brighton tomorrow at the end of a loan.
It was a bad mistake by Mark McKeever who tried to flick the ball up for a clearance which gave Bramble his scoring chance.
He finished with a hard low drive. Rovers might still have saved the game but Giuliano Grazioli, who had come on as a late sub, failed to put away an easy chance after Flavahan had half blocked a shot from Tait