MARK Bentley is confident that Canvey Island are moving in the right direction with a new-look squad.

The Gulls have made an impressive start to the Isthmian North campaign and booked their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup thanks to a last-gasp 2-1 replay win over Waltham Abbey.

And Bentley is pleased with the character of his players, who saw off Waltham Abbey thanks to a comical own goal from Dominique Yiagnigni and a late Jason Hallett header.

The Canvey chief said: “Of our starting line-up, only James White, Alex Stephenson and Josh Hutchinson were at the club when I took over as manager.

“Ade Osifuwa joined us towards the end of last season and the rest of the players came in during the summer, so there is a large number of players who are still building an understanding with each other.

“The football we are playing is excellent and I was particularly pleased with the first half.

“Our character at the moment is never-say-die and very good.”

Yiagnigni was unfortunate to put through his own net and hand Canvey an early lead in the first qualifying round replay at Park Lane.

But Leonne McKenzie levelled matters for the visitors soon after the hour mark.

However, the Gulls were handed a numerical advantage with nine minutes remaining as Ryan Dear saw red following a lunge on Dan Humphreys.

And Canvey capitalised as Hallett met a Hutchinson cross with a bullet header to ensure Bentley’s side will visit St Ives Town in the next round of the FA Cup.

But Bentley has called on his players to be more clinical in front of goal.

“I’m very pleased that we have gone through and that was what it was all about,” added Bentley.

“We were excellent in the first half but then made lots of individual errors to let them back into the game in the second half.

“It should have been all over at half-time and I was disappointed to only be 1-0 up at the break because we missed lots of chances.

“We ended up having to dig in because they got in our faces a lot more in the second half, but we achieved the aim of progressing in the FA Cup.”

As a result of booking their place in the next round, Canvey will pocket £4,500 in prize money.

“Added funds is always great in non-league football,” admitted Bentley.

“It’s good for the club and hopefully I can get a little bit of that into my budget."