A PIVOTAL week for Southend United started with yet more pain as the Shrimpers slumped to a last gasp 2-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic at Roots Hall tonight.

Blues, who will be back in court tomorrow morning to address a winding up petition from HMRC, seemed set for a share of the spoils when an impressive free-kick from Tom Clifford cancelled out Bobby Grant’s opener for the Latics.

But the visitors hit back late on with Zak Dearnley scoring a minute from time to keep Mark Molesley’s side rooted to the foot of the League Two table without a single victory to their name.

The Shrimpers have now gone 12 games without a win in all competitions but did momentarily threaten early on against the Latics with Jason Demetriou firing wide of the right post after Terrell Egbri’s right wing cross had been cleared into his path.

In reply, the Latics’ Dylan Fage fired over from 20 yards following a poor pass from Elvis Bwomono before left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson sent a dangerous cross-shot flying across the six yard box.

The Shrimpers soon replied with James Olayinka firing wide of the left post from long range before the home-side saw shouts for a penalty waved away when Ashley Nathaniel-George appeared to be caught by Brice Ntambwe.

Moments later, Elvis Bwomono fired over from just outside the penalty area in the closing action of an uneventful first half.

But just four minutes into the second period Oldham broke the deadlock as Borthwick-Jackson’s left wing cross picked out an unmarked Grant who volleyed home from close range.

Blues felt the goal should have disallowed for offside but responded by making their first change of the night in the 54th minute with Kazaiah Sterling coming on to replace Emile Acquah in attack.

However, Oldham remained on top with Conor McAleny shooting against the foot of the left post before also seeing another effort parried away by Blues goalkeeper Mark Oxley.

The Shrimpers replied by making a second change, in the 72nd minute, with Brandon Goodship coming on for Harry Lennon.

And four minutes the hosts were back level with Clifford curling home a brilliant 25 yard free-kick which hit the back of the net via the inside of the right post for his first goal in senior football.

After drawing back level Blues made their final change on the night with Shaun Hobson coming on for James Olayinka and another set piece soon almost handed the Shrimpers the lead as Goodship’s free-kick from 25 yards bounced back off the crossbar.

Terrell Egbri then saw a well struck effort pushed wide of the target by Oldham goalkeeper Ian Lawlor.

But, right at the death, Oldham broke away to score a late winner as Dearnley raced onto a long ball before rounding the advancing Oxley to fire the ball into the back of an unguarded goal.