SOUTHEND United ladies side kicked off life in Division One South of the Eastern Eastern Region Women’s Football League with a 2-1 win at Hutton.

Goals from Cristina Fragnito and Emily Pert saw the Shrimpers triumph on the opening day of the season.

And Blues boss Lewis Dodds was delighted with the win.

“Today’s game was our first test to see what challenges lie ahead of us for the upcoming season,” said Dodds.

“It was also for the current squad and new players to start working as a team to put together successful performances and results we produced through our successful season last year.

“Despite the number of injuries we suffered during the end of last season and during the break the whole team have worked hard over pre-season and we have seen vast improvements throughout the friendlies which were shown in today’s win.”

The Shrimpers will now be looking to build on their hard fought victory and Dodds is determined to help his side pick up more points.

“Obviously we would like to finish as high up as possible in our first season in Tier 6,” said Dodds.

“I would say our aim would be to finish in the top half of the table and to produce another successful run in a domestic cup.

"With the current squad and the new signings we have brought in, we now have options for each position and with the football we play, I believe we are more than capable of achieving these targets.

"But the main aim for myself, the coaches and the players is to take this club to the highest level of women’s football as possible.

“We have seen other football teams in Essex do it, so setting ourselves this as a long term target was always the plan.”

But Dodds knows it will be far from straight forward this season.

“Of course being promoted into the league above is always going to be a challenge whether we know we are capable to play at this level or not,” said Dodds.

“The majority of the current squad have experience at this level, and we also have players that are more than capable of playing at this level and higher.”

However, it is a new look squad Dodds is leading into action this time around.

“Every season we have had changes within the squad and we’ve had to say goodbye to a couple of players this summer, some of which could have helped with our season,” said Dodds.

“But we have brought some new players in that have immediately become part of the team and have grown into the way we play.

"They have shown a number of qualities throughout trials and in our 2-1 win today.”

Away from the domestic game, Dodds has also been tracking the action at the Women’s World Cup.

And the success of the Lionesses is already helping the Shrimpers.

“We have had a huge response from local businesses and supporters that have offered to sponsor players due to getting hooked on watching the Lionesses at the Euros and World Cup,” said Dodds.

“I hope the World Cup will encourage loads of local people and supporters to come along and support the ladies on a Sunday too.”