THERE was a familiar feel to the frustration suffered by Southend United against York City on Saturday.

For not only were the two teams again separated by a late goal at Roots Hall.

But the winner, scored by substitute Lennell John-Lewis, again came after Blues had failed to turn their possession and pressure into clear cut chances and goals.

The Shrimpers’ best two opportunities of the afternoon were spurned by centre-back Adam Crowther and the lack of goals is now a glaringly obvious concern.

Blues have now failed to hit the back of the net in three successive games for the first time this season while it is four matches without a goal from open play.

And the worrying statistics do not stop there.

The Shrimpers have now suffered six defeats in their last nine games and sit 19th in the National League standings, with only goal difference keeping them above the relegation zone.

Staying up has now suddenly become the immediate and most important aim this season and regaining momentum will be key where that is concerned.

Identifying issues is often the easy part but fixing them is far more complex, especially where Blues are involved.

It is fact rather than an excuse, to suggest the Shrimpers have been through more – both mentally and physically – already this season.

And through no fault of their own perhaps the players have subconsciously relaxed slightly since the future of the club was secured.

These players are only human after all but there is little room for error where Blues are concerned this season.

A 10 point deduction for financial irregularities has seen to that, through no fault of anyone at the club other than the chairman Ron Martin.

But the Shrimpers must focus on the points they do have and can still get rather than those cruelly taken away if they are to work their way away from danger.

The performances, on the whole, have been pleasing this season and no-one will forget what this squad have done in the past few months.

However, nobody is above constructive criticism and recent results have not been good enough.

Improvements are needed in the final third and perhaps Southend could look to vary things up a bit more, especially with opposing sides now aware of their tactics.

Blues’ football is often pretty on the eye but there is nothing wrong with going more direct at times and trying to catch out a defence before they have had time to properly regroup.

The Shrimpers certainly need to start taking more shots and arguably more risks in attack too.

But that is far more difficult when confidence is low.

All eyes will be on the strikers at times like these.

However, attention should be on all areas.

In truth, the forwards have been short of quality service in the past couple of games while Blues also possess players elsewhere in their side who should be contributing more in front of goal.

Combinations are also key and with three new strikers arriving since December partnerships are being worked upon.

Harry Cardwell seems the one certain starter in attack, if fit, and rightly so given his form at the start of the season.

But the statistics show he may be better off with a slightly more withdrawn forward alongside him.

Now it may just be a coincidence rather than anything substantial but Cardwell has fared best when leading the line alone this season.

With no other natural striker alongside him Cardwell has scored nine times in 11 league games this season but when partnering another forward he has netted three times in 13 outings.

That could be down to opposition performances or superior service coming his way or it could suggest a deeper lying partner may help him get back on the score-sheet more regularly.

Danny Waldon was the latest striker to start next to Cardwell at the weekend.

But the forward should be seen as more of a long-term project and it will take him time to get to grips with full-time football and playing at National League level.

Kevin Maher and his staff will know far better than me where that is concerned and I remain confident Blues have more than enough about them to work their way back up the table.

However, one look at the league table shows it is far too close for comfort right now and the Shrimpers should certainly not be taking anything for granted.