DARREN Manning believes Hullbridge Sports’ opening point of the season will have given his players a major boost.

Sports, who are enjoying a first ever Isthmian North campaign in the club’s history, held promotion favourites Aveley to a goalless draw just 48 hours after suffering a convincing 3-0 defeat to Witham Town.

And Manning, whose side were crowned Essex Senior League champions last term, feels the stalemate at Parkside will have had a psychological affect on his players.

“The result will have given the players a major boost,” said the Hullbridge boss.

“Getting a point at Aveley just a matter of days after getting well beaten by Witham makes it even more pleasing because we got a reaction from the players.

“We weren’t good enough against Witham and the players know that.

“The difference in performance between that and against Aveley was chalk and cheese.

“Now the players all know they belong at this level.

“When you are still waiting for your first point of the season, it is only natural for a bit of doubt to start creeping in.

“But the boys were pleased to get off the mark and they will now be full of confidence.”

Hullbridge frustrated their hosts and also had the assistant referee to thank after ruling out a first half effort from Connor Witherspoon for offside.

And Manning was delighted to see his players stick to the gameplan.

“We’re proud to have got our first point at this level and I was particularly pleased with how we played,” added Manning.

“The players were extremely disciplined and stuck to the gameplan like never before.

“We know that we will get beaten if we go to places like Aveley and try to compete with them in attacking, flair football.

“We are not naïve and so we were aware that we would have to defend for large spells.”

Having gone out of the FA Cup at the extra preliminary round stage to Stanway Rovers, Hullbridge are without a fixture until Monday, when they will welcome neighbours Canvey Island to the Ryan’s Heating Stadium.

While he is pleased to have more time to prepare for the Canvey clash, Manning would prefer to still be in the competition.

“It’s never a blessing to be out of the FA Cup,” admitted Manning.

“But it gives us a chance to rest up and prepare.

“Canvey played last night and are in action on Saturday, so we will be fresher.”