FOR most of his career, Jack Midson has combined playing football with coaching tennis.

And the striker helped AFC Wimbledon serve up a shock win on his return to Roots Hall on Saturday.

The 30-year-old, who spent a short spell on loan with the Shrimpers in 2010, bagged the only goal of the game from the penalty spot as Blues’ promotion hopes suffered a surprise and serious setback.

For with just three games coming up against teams in the top five, Southend had been banking on picking up points in their matches against AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley during their run in.

Both of them remain towards the foot of the table and had been expected to be brushed aside by Blues.

But, Wimbledon had other ideas at the weekend as Southend’s frustrating inconsistencies continued.

However, that has been case since the opening few months of the season.

After all, Blues kicked off the current campaign with three successive league victories before suffering four successive defeats.

Then came a run of one defeat in 15 games before Phil Brown’s side went 13 matches without a win.

After that came three wins in a row and another corner appeared to have been turned at the most pivotal stage of the season, only for Wimbledon to bring the victorious run to an end.

Blues did enjoy long periods of possession against the Dons but they often found it hard to create clear cut chances against a well organised defence.

Jamar Loza had a couple of half chances, while Ryan Leonard flashed a shot wide of the left post and John Egan had a long range effort tipped wide of the target by Dons goalkeeper Ross Worner.

But the visiting shot-stopper was not called upon often enough for the Shrimpers’ liking and they are now sweating on keeping their place in the play-offs.

Blues remain sixth in the standings with four games to go but they are now level on points with seventh placed Oxford United.

York City, who sit eighth, are now just one point behind and a nail biting conclusion to the campaign seems certain.

How the Shrimpers react to the setback will now be crucial and, in a bid to turn things around, it could be time to recall Barry Corr in attack.

The on loan Jacob Murphy must also be pushing for a start after three substitute appearances and his inclusion could well improve the balance of the side.

One defeat should not result in wholesale changes though and Blues are still well placed to make the play-offs.

And, such is the crazy ways of the Shrimpers, that having games against high-flying opposition could actually suit them during the run in.

Southend have been beaten just twice in 16 outings against teams in the top 10 of the table this term but they have won just five of their 13 encounters against sides in the bottom seven.

Such a conundrum confuses everyone connected with the club but it seems sides with attacking intentions are easier for Blues to beat and that could work in their favour in their remaining four matches.

However, Southend have never done things the easy way and Saturday’s unexpected reverse means their push for a top seven finish now looks set to go right to the very last day of the season.

But whether or not they will make it seems to be impossible to predict, such is the inconsistency of the side.

Yet with time running out and the pressure starting to increase now is the time when the true capabilities and the character of the Shrimpers will finally be revealed.

And it is therefore time for the real Southend United to finally stand up.