DARREN Manning was ‘over the moon’ after guiding Hullbridge Sports to the Essex Senior League title in his first full season in charge.

Sports went into the final day of the campaign knowing victory over Stanway Rovers would ensure Isthmian North football next term.

And a 2-1 win, courtesy of Adebola Sotoyinbo’s second half brace before Jordan Blackman’s injury time strike for Stanway, sparked wild celebrations at the Ryan’s Heating Stadium.

Manning said: “The fact that we are champions hasn’t sunk in.

“There was a big bundle after the second goal but I just stood there because it’s hard to comprehend what we have done.

“The players have been absolutely amazing all season long and what they have achieved is fantastic.

“It’s crazy that we will be playing teams like Grays Athletic and Canvey Island next season.

“It’s going to be a good experience but very tough for a little club like us going up against some of the biggest names in non-league.

“It’s exciting and we will enjoy every minute of it. We will give it a really good go.

“We had plans in place for if we went up and if we didn’t, so we will now put the promotion plan into action.

“I’m just over the moon that we are the champions.”

After a cagey first half, which saw Yemi Adelani miss Hullbridge’s best opening, Sotoyinbo broke the deadlock by slotting home with 20 minutes remaining.

Sotoyinbo doubled his tally by firing home from the edge of the penalty area after substitute Luke Hornsley had been denied.

And Manning was frustrated to see Stanway’s Blackman halve the deficit in the dying moments.

The Sports chief added: “I was still thinking ‘let’s keep a clean sheet’ so I was a bit annoyed that we conceded so late on.

“In the first half we were very nervous.

“We calmed them down at half-time and let them relax for a bit.

“We told them that the win was there for the taking.

“They were outstanding in the second half.

“Everyone around the ground was nervous but I was the calmest man here because I knew that what will be, will be.

“Stanway baffled us a bit because I thought they would come at us but, instead, they backed off.

“We were baffled for the first 10 minutes but then we got into our stride and created a couple of chances.

“We slowly ground them down and got what we deserved.

“When we scored the first goal we were relieved because we knew we needed to score. I couldn’t be prouder.”