WHEN it comes to reviewing Southend United’s 2017/18 season, Saturday’s drab goalless draw with Bristol Rovers will be a footnote at best.

The final clash of the campaign was, in truth, a typical end of season encounter between two mid-table teams with little left to play for.

And it was not a match that will live long in the memory.

The dismissal of Rovers midfielder Ollie Clarke three minutes before the break should have seen the Shrimpers continue their recent momentum and secure a fourth successive victory.

But the red card reduced the entertainment factor even further.

And with Blues struggling to carve open a well-organised Pirates defence, there were very few goalscoring opportunities at either end of the pitch.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was the Pirates who came closest to scoring in the second period with Tony Craig hitting the post and Mark Oxley doing well to deny Ellis Harrison.

But, while excitement may have been in short supply, the draw did secure a top 10 finish for the Shrimpers which again underlined the progress made since Chris Powell’s appointment at the end of January.

At the start of the season however, 10th place would probably have been seen as something of a disappointment.

After all, Blues had finished the previous season strongly and had missed out on the play-offs by just a single point on the final day of the campaign.

Adding to the expectancy levels, the Shrimpers brought in Michael Kightly, Rob Kiernan and Michael Turner during the summer.

And everything seemed set for success when the season started with a superb 2-1 win against promotion favourites Blackburn Rovers.

But those levels were never reached again during the first half of the campaign at least, as things began to unravel at Roots Hall.

Injuries did not help at times but the team with the potential to push for a top six finish soon found themselves sliding down the table.

At times, the Shrimpers seemed to be lacking in fighting spirit and togetherness and a disastrous run of eight defeats in nine games ultimately led to Phil Brown being dismissed.

And Blues found themselves just one point and one place above the relegation zone.

A return to League Two seemed a real possibility at that stage.

But Powell’s appointment in late January lifted everyone connected with the club and enabled football to become fun again.

The team seemed far tighter and closer together and also started to play with far more freedom.

All of a sudden, a side seemingly lacking in most departments started to turn things around and worked their way back up the table with a succession of successful scorelines.

Saturday’s draw with Bristol Rovers also meant Blues took more points from Powell’s 18 games this season than in the 28 which preceded his arrival.

And the Shrimpers began to look far tighter at the back and much more of a threat going forward.

As a result, Blues would have found themselves in the top six in the table had the season started when Powell took charge and, under his guidance, they became a completely different proposition.

The progression bodes well for next season, but success cannot automatically be taken for granted.

Blues could face a fight to keep hold of some of their most influential players, while a new campaign will also throw up completely different challenges from elsewhere.

However, a season which began with so much optimism and ultimately failed to deliver is still ended positively after a late surge.

But now that must be built on this summer with the right recruitment to ensure next season can be one that meets expectation right the way through.