MARK Bentley was pleased to see some of Benfleet’s most promising stars step up to the plate and impress in Canvey Island’s opening Isthmian League Cup group stage clash.

The Gulls were involved in a goalless draw with Hullbridge Sports before going onto lose 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out.

But Bentley, who included seven full debutants in his starting line-up, was impressed with those on display at Park Lane.

The Canvey chief said: “The Benfleet boys played on Sunday in the FA Vase, so only 48 hours earlier, but they came in and really impressed me.

“Emmanuel Adelokunbo was lightning and caused them a few problems.

“Dan Confrey did well and plenty of credit goes to the Benfleet boys.

“Rob Lacey, Sam Dulieu and Dan Humphreys all played 90 minutes for Benfleet at the weekend, so it was good minutes for them because they are pushing for a first team spot with us.

“There are another couple of lads who I will probably look to invite in for training after their performances.

“It was a good opportunity for the boys to show me what they’re all about.

“Hullbridge had a lot of players out there who played against us in the Isthmian North game last week, whereas none of our players who started played in that game.

“Our players matched them and that’s a real credit to the boys because they didn’t look out of place at all against a full-strength Isthmian North side.”

Bentley, who counts Southend United among his former clubs, made an appearance off the bench late on.

And the 41-year-old was pleased to briefly get involved in the clash with Canvey’s neighbours.

“I’ve got veterans games coming up so I thought it was an opportunity for me to get some minutes,” added Bentley, who took charge of the Gulls in October.

“Some of the boys were flagging and I had no intention of coming on, if I’m honest.

“But Kane Gilbert took a knock and he should have probably come off a bit earlier.

“Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

“At the end of the day, I still love playing so I was happy to come on and get a few minutes.”