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Southend United are unable to unpick Scunthorpe United lock
FRIDAY 13th certainly proved unlucky for Southend United as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Scunthorpe at a wet Roots Hall.
The reverse was the Shrimpers’ fourth in succession.
And it came after a promising first half performance from Phil Brown’s side.
Blues certainly saw more of the ball in the opening 45 minutes and on several occasions had fine crosses flash across the face of goal when only the slightest of touches would have resulted in the game’s opening goal.
But, despite those inviting crosses and periods of sustained possession, the Shrimpers rarely looked like scoring and Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was not forced into action very often.
However, the visitors looked even less like hitting the back of the net until a terrible mistake from Ben Coker led to them bagging the game’s decisive goal.
The Shrimpers left-back was attempting to nod a left wing cross from Etienne Esajas out of danger at the far post.
But the ball hit the wrong side of Coker’s head and the defender could only look on in horror as it looped back towards his own goal and enabled former Colchester United forward Chris Iwelumo to head home from close range.
To be fair to Coker it was a rare error in an otherwise consistent start to the season from the summer signing.
And what was actually most disappointing was how the Shrimpers reacted to the setback as they went from being right on top to being very much second best.
The Iron suddenly became by far the superior side and, with better finishing, could have been celebrating a more convincing victory.
Such a scenario will undoubtedly be causing Blues boss Brown concern and huge question marks surround his side’s character at this stage of the season.
The Shrimpers also drastically deteriorated after conceding against Morecambe, having previously been on top and taking the lead.
As mentioned before on these pages, Southend are crying out for an experienced, vociferous leader to improve how they react and handle disappointments which may develop during the course of a game.
In glimpses they continue to show there is talent in the team and it is too early to become too despondent.
But obvious improvements do need to be made.
On Friday night, the 14 players Blues used had a combined total of 1,472 games while Scunthorpe’s had 2,430 and the longer the game went on it showed.
The Iron were able to intelligently adapt to what was happening in front of them whereas Shrimpers’ heads immediately appeared to drop.
Recent results would have had something to do with that but had Blues got back to their best then they would still have been able to get something from the game.
Brown’s hands remain reasonably tied in the transfer market due to the embargo he still has to work under and Southend may also be unable to afford the more experienced players who become available.
Injuries have also not helped Brown’s cause and it is no coincidence that Blues’ four straight defeats followed Marc Laird picking up a hamstring problem which forced him to the sidelines.
The Scottish midfielder remains out of action for at least another month and Brown will have to battle on with the players he already has at his disposal.
His options remain very limited but it could well be time to have another look at Barry Corr in attack.
The Irishman has been on the bench for Blues’ last two games after a couple of subdued showings.
But he certainly possesses the character and experience the Shrimpers have drastically been lacking during their run of bad results.
And it could therefore be time to recall the striker as Blues look to get their season back on track after suffering four straight league defeats for the first time since 2010.