HULLBRIDGE Sports manager Darren Manning joked he may have to fine his backroom team after his side’s spirited showing against Southend United.

Sports fought hard during their 3-0 defeat to the Shrimpers at Boots & Laces this afternoon.

But it was a special fixture for those working alongside Manning who are big Blues fans.

“My assistant, my goalkeeping coach and my video analyst are all massive Southend fans,” said Manning.

“For them it was a plus today because they got to see the team they love against the team they work for.

“I think I saw them celebrate when they scored so I might have to fine them!

“But all jokes aside I thought we did ourselves proud.”

Hullbridge, who line up in Isthmian North, came close to taking the lead when Callum Fitzer hit the crossbar and Kieran Bishop saw his follow up effort cleared off the line.

And Manning was full of praise for his team.

“It was a very good work out,” said Manning.

“We wanted to work on one of our phases of play and it was a good time to do it against a League Two side.

“We worked on our defending and being compact and we were very good.

“We frustrated them at times but their quality shone through in the end, which it was always going to do.

“But the score-line was irrelevant for us and we just wanted to see success in that phase of play.”

Manning has taken Hullbridge to the highest level in their history and he is pleased with how things are shaping up for the forthcoming campaign.

“Pre-season has been very good,” said Manning.

We’ve had some tough games and very good performances against teams from a higher level.

“The boys are fit and sharp and we start our FA Cup campaign in about 10 days’ time.

“Everything got move forward two weeks compared to when we were originally meant to start.

“But I’m very happy and we’ve got a very good squad of players which we luckily managed to keep together in the summer.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s going.”

And Manning is also keen to maintain a good relationship with the Shrimpers.

"We’ve got a good relationship with the club," said Manning.

"The soccer schools are done at Hullbridge and we took a couple of players on loan last year too.

"We want to keep working closely with Southend and grow even closer because there’s nothing that can stop us doing that really."