CANVEY Island boss Mark Bentley believes he has brought in the Isthmian North’s best goalkeeper to replace Harry Palmer.

Palmer, who won the manager’s and supporters’ player of the season awards last term, left the club last week in order to sign full-time terms with National League outfit Ebbsfleet United.

But Bentley moved quickly to sign Johnson and the shot-stopper impressed on his debut as the Gulls got pre-season underway with a 3-1 win over Isthmian Premier League side Hornchurch.

Bentley said: “Harry told me on Thursday afternoon that he was leaving and as I got off the phone to him I got on the phone to Lamar.

“He was at another club on trial and we know each other already because he worked with me at Grays.

“Lamar had a little think about it and agreed everything on Friday, so it’s great to have him on board with us.

“He is a goalkeeper who is very commanding, he has good quality and has a little bit of a hothead at times but we’ll manage that and keep him smiling.

“Lamar will be a good signing for us. When he is on it, there is no better goalkeeper in this division than Lamar Johnson, in my opinion.

“It was disappointing to see Harry go after a very good season, but that’s a hell of a replacement for us.”

George Purcell, Dan Humphreys and Ryan Melaugh grabbed the Canvey goals as Hornchurch were swept aside at Park Lane.

And Bentley was particularly pleased with his summer signings, including Purcell and Albert Levett.

“The new signings were really good,” added Bentley, who is preparing for his first full season at the helm.

“Albert Levett has come back and is leading the running groups and he wants to improve. I brought him to the club because I could tell in our conversation on the phone what type of player he is.

“He likes the club and is a local lad. Albert gave us good quality and energy. He didn’t shy away after making a couple of mistakes early on.

“We know what George can give us and that’s why it was so important to get him in early.”

Bentley believes the win over Hornchurch represents a promising start to pre-season.

“That was our first game after only five training sessions, but it’s all about setting standards in pre-season,” admitted Bentley.

“We want to build a winning mentality and every single player gave their all.

“I was pleased with how we played in both halves.”