SOUTHEND United may have returned home empty-handed from Blackburn Rovers on Saturday but for once on the road there were plenty of positives.

A second half header from Danny Graham secured table-topping Rovers a narrow 1-0 win at Ewood Park.

However, the Shrimpers can consider themselves incredibly unfortunate to not have picked up a point.

That has certainly not always been the case away from home this season, where Blues have found it tough going to find their best form.

The Shrimpers have triumphed just three times in 20 games on their travels so far, the joint lowest in the whole of League One.

Adding to that, Blues have conceded 39 goals in those outings and have the worst defensive record on the road at this level.

Twelve of their 20 away games have ended in defeat and Southend have been able to secure just 14 points from a possible 60.

In stark contrast, Blues have been beaten just four times in 21 outings at home, meaning 39 of the 53 points they have secured this season have come at Roots Hall.

With that in mind, it is quite obvious where the Shrimpers must improve most if they are to be higher up the table next season.

And boss Chris Powell will desperately be looking to find the right kind of formula.

Saturday certainly showed signs of improvements, especially as the promising performance came against the in-form League One leaders who look set to return to the Championship at the first attempt.

The Shrimpers initially lined up in a solid 4-5-1 formation at Ewood Park and were far harder to break down than in previous outings.

The system and game-plan kept them in contention and Blues were still able to work their way into potentially promising positions in the final third.

A lack of composure and, at times, quality saw the opportunities wasted but the determined display could well be a sign of things to come.

Of course, most purists would like to see free-flowing open football.

But, at times, such a philosophy can leave visiting teams completely exposed against strong sides, just like the Shrimpers were when losing 4-0 at Plymouth Argyle on Good Friday in their previous away game.

In certain contests, especially in League One, there needs to be real grit, determination and organisation to make it as hard as possible for home sides to make a breakthrough.

Blues had all of that in abundance at Blackburn and will still be wondering just how they did not score during an eventful ending to the encounter.

First of all, the Shrimpers had what appeared to be a blatant penalty waved away despite Dominic Samuel appearing to barge into the back of Simon Cox when the striker looked set to score.

And, just seconds later, the hosts somehow survived an almighty goalmouth scramble which saw Rovers goalkeeper David Raya stop Charlie Mulgrew scoring an own goal before Cox’s follow up effort was inadvertently blocked by Jason Demetriou.

The unsuccessful conclusion made sure it was not the Shrimpers’ day as their struggles in front of goal continued away from home.

Consequently, Blues have still scored just 15 times on the road this season, the joint lowest in the League, and have also not scored from open play in the six away games Powell has taken charge of.

And, perhaps most remarkable of all, the Shrimpers have still not scored in the second half of an away game since September, a run of 17 matches.

Blues could certainly not have come much closer to ending that wretched run at the weekend.

And Powell will now be hoping to maintain that level of performance moving forward, just with a few more goals and points, as his side - who have risen to 11th in the League One standings - aim to end the season on a real high.