JAMES Wakeling believes the future of Hullbridge Sports is bright after seeing a number of promising youngsters make a case for a place in the first team.

Hullbridge suffered a 5-1 Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup semi-final defeat to Isthmian Premier League side - and cup holders - Brightlingsea Regent.

But, with Sports’ sights firmly set on winning promotion to the Isthmian North, Hullbridge saw the clash as an ideal opportunity to give some reserve players game time and assistant manager Wakeling was impressed with some of the up-and-coming talent on show.

“We were fighting against relegation last season and it was difficult for us to bring in new players because no-one wanted to get involved in a relegation battle,” said Wakeling.

“Because of that, we used players in our reserves team and we decided that we wanted our reserve team to be really strong this season.

“We wanted the reserve team not to be full of players who are just in that team never going to have a chance of getting into the first team.

“It’s important to let them know that the door is open and that, if they play well, they can push for a place in the first team.

“I was watching from the stands at Brightlingsea because I decided that, with there being a lot of reserve team players in the side, it was best for the reserve team management staff to take charge.

“I was really impressed with the young players, particularly as Brightlingsea - who are two divisions above us - played their first team.

“There are one or two players who are knocking on the first team’s door.”

However, it was a night to forget for debutant George Whitby.

Adetokunbo Sotoyinbo gave Sports an 18th minute lead, but Whitby was shown two yellow cards to leave Hullbridge to play more than 60 minutes with 10 minutes.

Brightlingsea made the young visitors pay by scoring five unanswered goals.

“The red card changed the game, 100 per cent,” added Wakeling.

“It’s frustrating that he was sent off because we brought him in because of Perry Dunn being injured, but he will now have a one-match suspension.”