SOUTHEND United boss Kevin Maher was pleased to hand midfielder Jon Benton his first team debut against Weymouth.

Benton – who has been with Blues since the age of eight – played the final 22 minutes of the 1-1 draw at Roots Hall.

And Maher was delighted to get the 21-year-old onto the pitch.

“I’m pleased for him,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“Any time we get a young lad coming through the academy to make his first team debut it’s brilliant for the club.

“We will work closely with the academy staff to make sure we’re all aligned moving forward too.”

Benton was handed his opportunity after impressing while out on loan with Aveley this season.

The midfielder scored 16 goals in 25 games to help Danny Scopes’ side win the Isthmian North title.

And he took to Twitter after this afternoon's game to express his delight at making his debut.

He tweeted: "What a feeling to make my debut in-front of home fans!

"Been at the club since I was eight years old and now a dream come true!"