SOUTHEND United’s ladies side will be involved in their first FA Cup clash this weekend.

The Shrimpers face Houghton Athletic Ladies in the preliminary round of the competition at Garon Park on Sunday.

And Blues boss Lewis Dodds cannot wait for the clash “From the moment we found out we were selected for this season’s FA Cup, it has been the game we have all been working towards,” said Dodds.

“Win or lose, being able to compete in such a prestigious competition will be an amazing experience for all the players, coaches and everyone involved at the club.”

The Shrimpers have been back training since the end of June having seen their previous campaign cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Dodds’ squad have endured a mixed pre-season campaign.

“It was clear the squad’s fitness was the main target for improvement during pre-season,” said Dodds.

“We managed to get a number of friendlies in before the start of the season against teams in our league and in the league above which resulted in a number of mixed results.

“However, we took a lot of positives from the games which we’ve worked on in the build up to Sunday’s match.”

Houghton will line up in the Beds and Herts Women’s League this season.

But Dodds is unsure what kind of challenge they will present this weekend.

“Having never faced our opponents before, it’s hard to see how they play,” said Dodds.

“But we are going out on Sunday ready to face any challenges that are put in front of us.”

And the match will also be another step in the right direction for the Shrimpers who play in the Essex Women’s Premier Division.

“It’s our third season at this level and we are aiming to finish within the top half of the table,” said Dodds.

“The ladies team was established in 2017 and has grown and developed every year since.

“Since becoming manager in 2018, it’s clear to see the club has continued to grow with more women and girls across Essex coming to play for the club.”

But Dodds is still keen for more people to get involved.

“Since setting up social media accounts for the ladies team last season, we’ve  had a huge response from the Blues fans, supporting the team on a Sunday as well as promoting the squad across social media,” said Dodds.

“Our largest attendance at a game last season was around 100.

“When it’s safe to do so again we would love to see more fans of Southend United coming along to support the ladies!”