Despite a much-improved second half performance, Eastleigh FC Women fell to defeat on the opening day of the Southern Region Women’s Premier Division season.

The Spitfires travelled to Chapel Gate to face newly-promoted Bournemouth Sports, and it was the hosts who started the brightest.

A seventh-minute corner was cleared away to the edge of the area straight into the patch of a Bournemouth player who side-footed a composed finish into the bottom corner.

Eastleigh needed a reaction and appeared to be working their way back into the game, only for the home side to extend their lead at a crucial time with a quickfire double.

From another set-piece, a near post delivery was headed home to double the lead.

Then, just for minutes later, a well-struck shot from distance sailed in for the third goal of the game.

From there, the Spitfires had a mountain to climb but began to force some openings as the half wore on.

Summer signing Sheree Bell-Jack had two efforts – one from inside the area after some nice hold-up play and one from distance – which were gathered by the goalkeeper.

After some changes from new manager, Rafa Citron, at half time, Eastleigh came out fighting in the second half to try and force a route back into the game.

Substitutes Hannah Peachey and Lani Dickinson combined well just five minutes in, with Dickinson beating two players in the area but only finding the ‘keeper with her shot.

New signing and half time substitute goalkeeper, Sarah Kelsall, was called into action on the hour mark and produced a fantastic save from close range to tip a shot over the crossbar.

In the 72nd minute, Eastleigh did force a goal back through summer signing Dickinson.

Capitalising on a defensive mix up, the striker had the simplest of tasks to tap the ball home with the goalkeeper left helpless.

Lani Dickinson scores the Spitfires’ only goal

The Spitfires battled hard as the minutes ticked by, but were unable to force any further clear cut opportunities. 

Down the other end, goal line clearances from Lauren Hill, Freya Phillips-Foreman, and Kat Littleboy were all required to keep the hosts out but it ended 3-1 at the referee’s final whistle.

Eastleigh Women: Gardiner, Hill, Phillips-Foreman, Littleboy, Bradshaw, Metcalfe, Coalter, Shave, Bates, Browning, Bell-Jack Subs: Kelsall, Peachey, Whalley, Dickinson, Laidlaw

Goals: Dickinson