SOUTHEND and Blackpool are both well known for being seaside resorts.

But Saturday’s clash produced more of a rollercoaster ride of emotions than the two town’s theme parks put together.

For Blackpool it was an afternoon which had long been waiting and one many fans feared they may never get to see again.

Supporters had been staying away for several seasons due to the way the controversial Oyston family had been running their club.

However, this was the first home game since the previous owners had been ousted from Bloomfield Road.

And it made for quite some occasion.

Close to 16,000 fans packed into the ground and generated an unbelievable atmosphere.

Balloons, banners and fancy dress costumes added to the feel good factor and the whole situation probably meant it was the toughest possible time for Blues to be lining up at Blackpool.

Yet the Shrimpers stood firm, dug deep and could not have come much closer to pooping the party.

Goals from centre-backs Rob Kiernan and Michael Turner seemed to have secured a vital 2-1 victory for Chris Powell’s side.

But a cruel own goal from Taylor Moore, six minutes into stoppage time, saw the Shrimpers have to settle for a share of the spoils.

The late leveller was a bitter pill to swallow and, with the footballing gods continuing to conspire against Blues, it is hard to not start fearing the worst.

After all, Southend have now gone eight games without a win and have taken just four points from the last 24 on offer.

As a result, the 14th placed Shrimpers are just three points above the relegation zone.

But things could and probably should be looking far better for Blues this morning.

Just moments before Moore’s unfortunate own goal, Shrimpers top scorer Simon Cox was sent clean through on goal.

Nine times out of 10 the striker would make the most of such an opportunity but on this occasion he was denied by Blackpool goalkeeper Mark Howard and Blues ultimately went on to pay the price.

To make matters worse, AFC Wimbledon, Bradford City, Gillingham, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Walsall – sides below Blues in the standings – all won at the weekend and Southend find themselves right in the relegation fight.

More performances like Saturday will help their cause and, despite the late disappointment, there was still plenty to be positive about at the weekend.

The most pleasing aspect was certainly the return of defender Rob Kiernan.

The centre-back had been sidelined since August 2017 and was forced to undergo surgery on both of his knees during his lengthy lay-off.

At times, the defender must have feared he might never play again.

But, on Saturday, he lined up in Blues’ back five and made it an afternoon to remember by popping up to score the opening goal of the game.

Alongside Kiernan, Harry Lennon was handed his first start since recovering from the broken leg he sustained against Walsall in October while Jason Demetriou entered the action as a second half substitute to end his own injury lay-off after three months on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Ultimately, however, the day ended in desperate disappointment and it was hard not to feel that perhaps Blues slightly contributed to their own downfall with negative substitutions.

The Shrimpers very much seemed to settle for what they had got and attempted to soak up the Blackpool pressure by ending the game with seven defenders on the pitch and no natural striker.

Football, of course, is a game of fine margins and had Cox scored or Moore not inadvertently headed home, Blues would have picked up an additional two points and the changes would not even have really been as much of a consideration.

A real lack of attacking options also means it is hard for the Shrimpers to always remain on the front foot but somehow or other Blues must battle their way to the additional eight points they are likely to require to secure their League One status.

After that, a season containing more painful setbacks than any other in recent times can finally be forgotten. And, after yet more disappointment on Saturday, the sooner that can happen the better it might be.