A late strike from in-form Fulham forward Mike Conroy sent First Division Southend United out of the League Cup on a dramatic evening at Craven Cottage.

Ronnie Whelan’s side headed to SW6 determined to avenge their poor showing in the first leg, where the Whites had constructed a 2-0 advantage on the back of playing some outstanding counter-attacking football. The Shrimpers, who included former Fulham midfielder Julian Hails in their starting line-up, quickly wiped out the deficit with John Nielsen and Andy Rammell punishing some poor defending to level the tie within 28 minutes.

Fulham were far more threatening in the second half after a tongue-lashing from an unimpressed Micky Adams but it looked like the Third Division outfit would have to go into extra time until a poacher’s goal from Conroy delivered a place in the second round. The Whites had laid siege to the Southend goal with skipper Simon Morgan heading wide, but the visitors’ resolute defence was breached when a Nick Cusack cross bounced in off the shin of Fulham’s number nine.

FULHAM: Lange, Thomas, Herrera (Angus 57), Cullip, Cusack, Blake, Freeman, Cockerill (Mison 55), Conroy, Morgan, Scott. Subs (not used): McAree.

BOOKED: Blake, Cockerill, Mison.

GOAL: Conroy (89).

SOUTHEND UNITED: Sansome; Gridelet, McNally, Dublin; Nielsen (Williams 89), Tilson, Marsh, Hails, Harris; Rammell, Boere.

BOOKED: Gridelet.

GOALS: Nielsen (16), Rammell (28).

REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).