Barnsley boss Lee Johnson is seeking more fight and much more quality from his side after they disappointed again on Saturday, losing their third straight League One game at newly-promoted Southend.
The Red tossed away the lead before succumbing to another loss which saw them drop to 17th place in the table - just two points above the drop zone.
Josh Scowen fired the Reds in front from the spot, but the way his side then slipped to defeat is clearly a major concern for Johnson, particularly with second-placed Walsall providing the opposition at Oakwell tomorrow night.
The Reds boss said: “We got sucked into Southend trying to bully us. I was disappointed because although we are a young group, you can’t get bullied. We have to be physically and mentally stronger.
“We need everybody to help us now. That’s three losses on the spin, so we now need everyone to be positive and really get behind the group.
“Our decision-making and quality hasn’t been good enough and generally our quality in wide areas has left a lot to be desired.”
The Reds had secured a morale-boosting Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory at Bradfordin midweek, but Johnson still opted to make three changes to his starting line-up.
Penalty scorer Scowen and Dan Crowley returned to liven up the midfield four, with Kadeem Harris having to settle for a place on the bench and Conor Hourihane out injured.
The lone front-man role went to Michael Smith, who replaced Sam Winnall.
It proved to be a feisty first half, which contained all three goals and all six of the game’s yellow cards brandished by referee Mr Breakspear as both teams weren’t holding back.
The Reds had the ball in the back of the Shrimpers’ net after just three minutes, but an offside flag ruled out Crowley’s ‘goal’ after he had followed up a parried strike from Michael Smith.
At the other end Adam Davies was alert i, reacting well to keep out a well-struck effort from Anthony Wordsworth.
Back came the Reds with a free-kick from Crowley that fizzed inches over the top, before Davies was again called into action when Myles Weston planted a firm header straight into his grateful grasp.
The opening goal came after 24 minutes, with the Reds taking a shock lead from the penalty spot.
Marley Watkins, who had looked lively from the start, was upended by Southend ‘keeper Dan Bentley as he charged into the box, and referee Mr Breakspear had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped Scowen to send Bentley the wrong way, and the near 500-strong travelling army from Barnsley were in full voice.
Unfortunately for the Reds’ loyal band of supporters who had made the 200-mile trip south, the hosts were back on level terms 12 minutes later.
Weston teed up Wordsworth, who crashed home a super shot from 20 yards, giving Davies no chance.
Watkins responded positively with a shot that forced Bentley into a fine stop, but just two minutes before half-time, the Shrimpers scored again, bagging what would prove to be the winner.
This time it was a scruffier goal, with Southend defender Luke Prosser pouncing from close range to score his first goal in two years as he stretched to meet a deflected cross from Weston.
It was an awful way to have conceded and fallen behind after they had initially taken the lead, and the Reds never really recovered.
They huffed and puffed in the second period, but couldn’t find that elusive equaliser as they eventually fell to another concerning defeat.
Skipper Alfie Mawson’s woeful effort on the hour mark pretty much summed Barnsley’s day up as he fired high and wide from a great position inside the Southend box.
Sub Simeon Jackson went close and fellow replacement Winnall saw a header well saved by Bentley, but at the other end Davies was called upon late on as he thwarted Southend’s Joe Pigott.
To complete a truly miserable weekend all round for the Reds, influential midfielder Hourihane has been ruled out for at least a month with a grade one hamstring tear.
SOUTHEND (4-4-2): Bentley 5; White 7, Bolger 8, Prosser 7, Coker 6; Leonard 7, Wordsworth 8 (Rea 74, 5), Timlin 7, Weston 8 (McLaughlin 87, 6); Pigott 6, Mooney 7 (Atkinson 79, 6).
Subs not used: Smith, Payne, Hurst, Williams.
BOOKED: Bentley (23), White (34), Wordsworth (37), Pigott (40).
BARNSLEY (5-4-1): Davies 6; Wabara 5 (Harris 73, 5), Roberts 7, Mawson 7, Nyatanga 6, G Smith 5; Scowen 7, Pearson 7, Crowley 6, Watkins 6 (Winnall 48, 7); M Smith 5 (M Smith 65, 5).
Subs not used: Townsend, Digby, Bree, White.
BOOKED: Watkins (34), Wabara (38).
GOALS: Wordsworth 36, Prosser 43 for Southend; Scowen, pen, 24, (Barnsley).
REF: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).