SOUTHEND United secured their League One status with a dramatic play-off victory against Wycombe Wanderers back in 2015.

But the struggling Shrimpers edged another step closer to losing it with a dismal 2-0 defeat against the same opposition on Saturday.

Just when Blues needed a battling, courageous and committed display against their fellow strugglers they produced a passionless performance which now sees them facing an uphill struggle to survive.

Sadly, the manner of the performance should not really have come as a surprise as it was the kind of display which has become frustratingly familiar in the past few months.

It was a similar story in key clashes with Shrewsbury Town, AFC Wimbledon and Scunthorpe United and the Shrimpers have now gone 14 matches without a win.

Blues have now taken just five points from a possible 42 during that time and seem destined for a return to League Two.

With just four games left to go, the Shrimpers are 22nd in the standings and sit two points from safety.

Matches against Walsall and Rochdale are fast approaching meaning, theoretically, Southend are still able to survive.

But given the run of results, the lack of momentum and the standard of the recent showings even the most optimistic of supporters must now be fearing the very worst for the Shrimpers.

Quite how Blues ended up in such a sorry situation is down to a variety of factors.

Poor recruitment is perhaps one of the biggest problems while injuries have also not helped the Shrimpers’ cause.

However, those who have been available throughout the season should still have been able to perform to a far higher standard.

Last weekend’s improved performance at Fleetwood Town, in Kevin Bond’s first game in charge, offered hope for the remainder of the season and suggested Southend could still work their way out of trouble.

But everything that was good about Blues at the Highbury Stadium was severely lacking on Saturday as the Shrimpers went back to being something of a soft touch.

Too often this season Blues have been too nice to play against and opposing sides have been able to cruise to comfortable victories without much physical confrontation.

That was certainly the case on Saturday in Southend’s biggest game of the season so far and Blues boss Bond was spot on in his post-match assessment.

Bond, who will now be realising the size of the task he has taken on, labelled the performance ‘unacceptable’ and also suggested the Shrimpers were a ‘fragile’ group.

Having seen every game so far this season, that certainly seems to be the case but, in truth, there is little Bond can really change right now.

Blues have had three different managers in charge of their last three home games and they all ended in defeat, meaning the players must take their fair share of the responsibility.

In one capacity or another I have now been watching Southend for 29 years.

And, in truth, it is tough to remember a season as disappointing as this.

Of course, the 2009/2010 campaign - the last time Blues were relegated from League One - was one to forget but those struggles were largely off the field and the players continued to give their all in testing times.

However, there can no longer be any sugar-coating the current situation.

The Shrimpers are a side lacking character, confidence, fight and fitness and, for me, it is the worst I have seen, over a sustained period of time, since the Alvin Martin regime in the late 1990s.

The supporters, who have continued to back the club in good numbers this season, deserve so much better and it is simply no longer fun to watch Southend.

Saturday was the Shrimpers’ 13th defeat of the season at Roots Hall as they increased an already unwanted club record and only Bolton Wanderers have lost so many matches at their own ground this term in the whole of the Football League.

Subsequently, Blues now seem likely to get relegated but passionless performances like the one against Wycombe cannot be tolerated.

And if, as it seems, the Shrimpers do go down they at least owe it to all those around them to go down fighting.