A GAME of conflicting and contrasting twists and turns ultimately ended in familiar frustration for Southend United on Saturday.

Failing to turn periods of pressure into points has been the story of the season so far.

And it was again the case against League One leaders Peterborough United as Steve Evans’ side recorded a 3-2 victory at Roots Hall.

Posh came into town boasting an unbeaten record but were second best at the start of the game until Blues were poorly carved open by a set piece which resulted in Matt Godden firing the visitors in front.

Godden doubled the visitors’ lead from another free-kick after the break and, with Charlton Athletic also scoring from a late corner at Roots Hall last weekend, dealing with dead ball situation again suddenly seems to be a problem for the Shrimpers.

In fact, defending in general seems something of an issue and just four teams in the whole of League One have conceded more goals than Chris Powell’s side.

Failing to convert chances in front of goal and assessing the various striking options have dominated the discussions so far this season.

But, perhaps even more serious are the problems at the other end of the pitch.

Blues kept 10 clean sheets in 18 games following Chris Powell’s appointment last season and conceded just 15 goals in those outings.

However, add the cup games into the current campaign and the Shrimpers have now conceded 16 goals in nine outings.

Southend have picked up just two clean sheets this term around and defensive improvements must be made if Blues are to recover from their slow start.

After Saturday’s setback, just seven points have been collected from the opening seven games and Powell – a defender himself during his own illustrious career – will desperately be thinking of ways to shore up the rearguard.

With summer signing Harry Lennon currently sidelined with a fractured toe, the defence has hardly changed since last season with the same set of players pushing for starting slots.

However, what has changed is the players now sitting in front of them and it could well be an ever changing central midfield partnership has yet to provide enough protection for those behind them.

At the weekend, that included a new goalkeeper with the experienced David Stockdale arriving on loan to line up between the sticks.

The call was perhaps tough on the highly-rated youngster Nathan Bishop who filled in for the suspended Mark Oxley against Cambridge United in the Checkatrade Trophy.

But the 18-year-old’s time will come and once someone of Stockdale’s standing became available it made sense to bring him in, even though he did not enjoy the best of debuts.

However, there were still signs of promise for the Shrimpers as they again showed good spirit to fight back from 2-0 down while winger Harry Bunn also looked bright on his first League start.

On the opposite flank, Stephen McLaughlin will be boosted by his first goal of the campaign having endured a slow start to the season.

But those efforts ultimately went unrewarded as Ivan Toney netted a painful late winner for Posh.

The frustrated Blues will now be desperate to get back on track but their hopes are still being hindered by a lengthy list of unavailable players.

Powell was without 10 members of his squad at the weekend and that has certainly stopped his side being able to get into their rhythm.

Continuity often results in consistency at League One level but both have been missing from the Shrimpers’ play so far.

Powell will want to rectify that and while, problems may lie elsewhere he may also look to hand on loan striker Shawn McCoulsky more of an opportunity.

McCoulsky has scored four goals in two starts in cup competitions since joining from Bristol City but has barely been used in the League.

Other strikers have also impressed for Blues, with Tom Hopper having now scored four goals in seven starts.

But McCoulsky - who played for just two minutes at the weekend - also warrants an opportunity as the Shrimpers seek an immediate reaction to Saturday's painful setback.

However, for that to happen you also sense Southend must also discover a way to win ugly if they are to quickly catch the teams currently above them in the table.