JOHN Sussex hailed Basildon United youngster Maldon Stratford after the youngster recovered from an early error to excel in the 2-1 Isthmian League Cup win over Hullbridge Sports.

Although goals from Joe Turpin and Kurt Smith allowed the Bees to triumph at the Cousins Car Wash Stadium, Hullbridge took a second minute lead thanks to Adebola Sotoyinbo converting from the penalty spot after Stratford had been penalised.

And Sussex felt 17-year-old central defender Stratford showed maturity as he put the mistake behind him quickly.

The Basildon boss said: “Marlon was making his debut and, within two minutes, gave away a penalty.

“A lot of 17-year-olds would have crumbled after that but he recovered well and I was really pleased with him.

“He grew into the game and got stronger with every minute on the pitch.

“We ended up giving him 65 minutes on the pitch and I thought he was excellent.

“Having the experienced Conor Mead and Joe Turpin either side of him helped, but I would have no hesitation in putting him in the side in future based on that performance.”

Sussex was also pleased to see Smith, who grabbed the winner from the penalty spot, come through the full 90 minutes after returning to the first team picture for the first time since being involved in a car accident.

“Kurt played the whole match and did well,” added Sussex.

“He impressed me and showed good fitness levels after coming into the team for the first time since a car accident.

“It was good to have him back in the side and that was another positive to come from the game.”

However, the victory over neighbours Hullbridge came at a cost as Joe Paxman was forced off with an early injury.

The winger suffered a hamstring injury last month and appeared to have made a full recovery.

But Paxman had to be substituted after a similar injury setback.

“Pax came off with a hamstring injury against Wakering last month,” confirmed Sussex.

“We started him against Hullbridge but his hamstring went again and he only lasted eight minutes before having to come off.

“It’s a blow because it’s not as if we rushed him back into the side.

“He came on as a substitute with 20 minutes to go against Heybridge Swifts on Saturday and he came through that unscathed, so we thought he was ready to start.

“It now looks as though he is set for a spell on the sidelines, which doesn’t help because we already have players injured.”