HOME may often be where the heart is – but nothing could be further from the truth for Southend United this season.

For Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against lowly Bristol Rovers was the ninth time Blues have been beaten at Roots Hall this term.

And that wretched home record is only matched by bottom of the table AFC Wimbledon in the whole of League One.

The Shrimpers have now suffered four defeats in succession at their own ground and also lost six of their last eight outings at Roots Hall.

Such a poor home record is unusual for Blues who have now slumped to as many home setbacks as in the last two seasons added together.

During the last campaign, Southend were beaten just four times at Roots Hall.

But, on Saturday, the Shrimpers looked tentative and anxious and, in truth, never really looked like troubling a Bristol Rovers side who started the day sitting second from bottom in the standings.

In truth, Rovers’ recent form had been far better than their League position suggested and the Pirates arrived at Roots Hall boasting the best away defence in the division.

However, Southend seem severely short of confidence in front of their own fans right now and also seem reluctant to commit too many men forward.

During the first half in particular at the weekend, Blues lacked an attacking intent and only a superb double save from goalkeeper Nathan Bishop stopped them from going in at half-time more than two goals down.

Of course, the challenge now facing boss Chris Powell is to stop the rot and get his team going at their own ground.

A switch to 4-4-2 with natural width and wingers seems an obvious first suggestion but several players are out of form right now and could struggle whatever the system.

Boss Powell is also short of alternative options and will therefore be forced to continue with the same small group of players.

An injury list consisting of 12 squad members does certainly not help the cause but that blow could have been softened during the January transfer window.

However, Blues were able to make just two signings during what was arguably the most important period of their season.

And, rather unbelievably, the Shrimpers ended January with even less strikers than they started it with.

Simon Cox and Stephen Humphrys are now the only senior strikers available to Powell and while 17-year-old Charlie Kelman remains a huge prospect for the future it would simply be unfair to expect too much, too soon from the promising youngster.

But, given the current form and the lack of new arrivals, even the most optimistic of supporters will currently be nervously looking down the League One table.

For, although Southend are currently 12th in the table, they sit just six points above the relegation zone.

And teams down towards the foot of the table, just like Bristol Rovers, are starting to run into some good form.

That adds to the Shrimpers’ tensions and so does their forthcoming fixture list which sees them facing five of the top eight in their next six outings.

Blues have struggled against the high-flying teams this term and have lost all nine of their games against sides in the top eight so far.

Improvements will certainly be needed from Saturday for that wretched record to improve as Bristol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan enjoyed a successful return to Roots Hall.

Coughlan worked tirelessly behind the scenes during his seven and a half year spell with the Shrimpers and could consider himself incredibly unfortunate to lose his job when Phil Brown was dismissed in January 2018.

However, in hindsight, the dismissal has proved to be a blessing in disguise as the Irishman has been handed a huge opportunity he instantly appears to be making the most of.

As a result, Rovers seem to be heading in the right direction.

But sadly the same can definitely not be said of the Shrimpers right now.