A WEEK packed full of painful setbacks ended with another for Southend United at Barnsley on Saturday.

The Shrimpers headed to Oakwell just days after having two of their most influential performers – Tom Hopper and Ben Coker – ruled out for the rest of the season with serious injuries.

And the Tykes added to Blues’ agony with Kieffer Moore bagging the only goal of the game just three minutes from time.

The defeat was tough to take and piled more misery on a Southend side who had already endured a horrific week.

But, despite the late drama and disappointment, there were actually signs of promise for the Shrimpers.

Now, beyond this job, Southend have and always will be my team and, as such, I look forward to every single match I get to report on, once the journey has been negotiated!

However, being honest, that was not the case on Saturday and, being entirely open, I am not sure I would have gone if I did not have to.

That was mainly down to the incredible list of injuries which seems set to hit Blues hard in the months ahead.

With seven goals in 13 starts since signing in the summer, striker Hopper had probably been the Shrimpers’ best player so far this season while left-back Coker had again been steady at the back and had also made more goals than any other player at the club.

Joining them on the sidelines are Sam Barratt and Lewis Gard with horrific knee injuries and centre-back Harry Lennon who is out until the New Year with a fractured leg.

But, with those succession of setbacks still fresh in the memory, it was hard not to feel down and despondent ahead of a trip to a Barnsley team who sit fourth in the League One table and have yet to lose at home this season.

However, what actually transpired was an evenly contested clash which could and maybe should have gone the way of the Shrimpers.

Winger Harry Bunn wasted a golden opportunity to score inside the opening two minutes and, as has often been the case this season, Blues were made to pay for not taking their chances when on top.

And two other frailties also reappeared – conceding from set pieces and letting in late goals.

Being fair, the Shrimpers had looked solid when dealing with dead ball deliveries at the start of the game.

But, in the second half, Alfie Mowatt’s corners started to cause problems with Moore hitting the crossbar before the towering striker headed home from close range in the closing stages.

It was not the first time Moore had hurt the Shrimpers as the targetman also netted a hat-trick against Southend while on loan at Rotherham at the start of last season.

His latest effort came in the closing stages, where Blues have been caught out quite regularly in recent times.

Charlton Athletic, Peterborough United, Coventry City and now Barnsley have all secured victory against the Shrimpers with late goals in recent weeks.

But, in stark contrast, Blues have now not scored in the final five minutes of a League game since the opening day of the season when Theo Robinson netted against Doncaster Rovers.

As a result, questions will be asked of the Shrimpers’ concentration levels and perhaps even their fitness.

But, the real root of the problem must be found and quickly rectified, as on Saturday it cost Powell’s side what would have been a deserved share of the spoils.

However, despite those problems and the obvious dejection at the final whistle, Saturday showed that Blues were still able to get toe to toe with one of the best teams in the League despite their packed treatment room.

Things could also have gone differently had a fine finish from striker Simon Cox not been ruled out for a marginal offside decision which could easily have gone either way.

Right now, things seem to be going against the Shrimpers who now take a break from the League to focus on two different competitions.

First up is Crawley Town in the FA Cup, where Blues boss Powell must decide whether or not to risk further injury problems or select a full strength side in pursuit of a rare cup run and the financial rewards that can bring.

But, whatever does materialise, it can surely not be worse than the last seven days.

Can it?