MARK Bentley felt his Canvey Island players deserved credit after securing a 2-2 draw against second-placed Maldon & Tiptree.

Although Liam Hope and Kojo Awotwi were on target for the high-flying Jammers, a Frankie Merrifield brace allowed the Gulls to secure a share of the spoils at the Frost Hire Stadium.

And Bentley was pleased with how his side performed.

“I was really happy,” said the Canvey boss.

“We knew they would be a decent side and we were expecting a tough game.

“But credit to my boys again because they put on a decent performance.

“We started really well and scored after four minutes.

“We haven’t been in that situation before and that might have surprised the boys a little bit.

“Your concentration levels might not be the same after scoring so we were a little bit vulnerable.

“We lacked a bit of concentration and within 30 seconds it was 1-1.

“You question the character again, obviously with the disappointing results we’ve had at home, but fair play to the lads because we didn’t let our heads drop and did really well.”

Canvey got the Isthmian North encounter off to a perfect start as Merrifield volleyed Ryan Melaugh's cross home inside four minutes.

But Maldon were level within 60 seconds as Hope found the back of the net.

Maldon's Laste Dombaxe clipped the outside of the post with a free-kick shortly before the break, but the visitors took the lead on 59 minutes as former Canvey man Awotwi profited from a Adetayo Osifuwa error.

The Gulls drew level seven minutes later thanks to a stunning Merrifield strike from 20 yards out and clinched a well-deserved point.