SOUTHEND United slumped to a controversial and calamitous 3-2 defeat at relegation rivals Bolton Wanderers this afternoon.

Harry Lennon headed the Shrimpers in front, shortly before being stretchered off.

But Bolton – who remain the only side below Blues in the League One table – fought back to secure all three points.

However, the manner of Wanderers’ second goal infuriated Sol Campbell’s side as play continued despite assistant referee Abba Khan raising his flag.

Blues had looked bright early on and, with eight minutes on the clock, Stephen McLaughlin headed Harry Lennon’s drilled left wing cross over the crossbar from eight yards.

But, two minutes later, Blues went in front when Sam Mantom’s left wing corner found the head of Lennon who nodded home his first goal for the club from close range.

However, just moments after scoring, Lennon was stretchered off with a serious looking leg injury.

The defender slid in to try and reach a left wing cross from Mark Milligan but immediately fell to the floor in the pain and, after a long spell of treatment, Lennon was carried off.

Lennon was replaced by the fit-again John White who went to right-back with Elvis Bwomono switching onto the left hand side of the back four.

But Blues were pegged back in the 36th minute, when Joe Dodoo collected a half-cleared Luke Murphy free-kick and drilled a low 16 yard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The Shrimpers felt the equalising effort should have been ruled out for handball but they soon pressed to regain with the lead with Stephen Humphrys having a long range effort smothered by Remi Matthews.

The hosts replied with Ronan Darcy firing over from close range before Keith Hill’s side took a controversial lead on the stroke of half-time.

For as Bolton pushed forward, assistant referee Abbas Khan raised his flag for offside – only for play to continue.

And, with Blues struggling to clear their lines, Luke Murphy unleashed a low 25 yard shot which Nathan Bishop could only parry into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

In a bid to get back into the game, the Shrimpers made a second change in the 62nd minute as the Tom Hopper replaced Jason Demetriou to partner Humphrys in attack.

But, two minutes later, Bolton extended their lead in calamitous circumstances when a Shrimpers attack eventually led to Mark Milligan playing the ball back to Timothee Dieng.

However, the Frenchman miscontrolled the pass and that allowed Daryl Murphy to race through one on one before beating Bishop with a confident finish.

Blues made their final change in the 80th minute with Matt Rush replacing Brandon Goodship and the visitors immediately got back in the game with Dieng heading home an inswinging free-kick from McLaughlin.

However, the Shrimpers were unable to conjure up a late leveller meaning they have now triumphed just one in 22 League games and sit 13 points from safety.