STUART Batch was overjoyed after a bumper crowd saw Benfleet hold Eastern Senior League Division One South table-toppers Hashtag United to a 1-1 draw.

An official attendance of 750 was recorded at the Frost Hire Stadium as Benfleet ended 2018 with a positive result.

And, although Batch knows Benfleet will not be able to attract the same numbers on a regular basis, he is hoping the club’s average attendance will improve.

“It was amazing to have 510 paying supporters and 750 fans at the Frost Hire Stadium in total,” said the Benfleet boss.

“When you get big crowds, the players want to give more.

“It gives them that little bit more fight and an extra 10 per cent because they want to make an impression in front of so many people.

“I know we won’t get that number through the gate again, but I’m hoping that we will now have a few of those people returning on a more regular basis.

“Even if we get just another 15 or 20 people into the ground for each game, that makes a difference.”

And Batch feels that Hashtag appearing on a popular Sky television programme on the morning of the clash also helped to boost the attendance at Canvey Island’s Frost Hire Stadium.

“I think it helped a bit that Hashtag were on Soccer AM in the morning of the game,” added Batch.

“Football fans watch Soccer AM all the time and so people would have searched where they were playing.

“When some of the local community saw they were on Canvey Island, some of them may have decided to come and watch the game.”

Rob Lacey scored for Benfleet, whose next home clash is against Holland on Wednesday.

Alfie Fletcher was sent off to leave the hosts to finish the encounter with 10 men and Hashtag, who are managed by former East Thurrock United assistant manager Jay Devereux, could not find a winner.

And having felt Benfleet were unlucky to lose the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, Batch was pleased to see his side pick up a point.

“We put on a little bit of a show for the supporters and that was pleasing,” admitted the Benfleet chief.

“Hashtag are a very strong team and they have a few players who were playing in the National League South last season.

“We held our own against them and , although we went down to 10 men with 15 minutes left, we held on for a deserved point.”