DARREN Manning admits he is becoming concerned with Hullbridge Sports’ lack of goals.

Sports suffered a 2-0 Isthmian North defeat to Grays Athletic, with Joao Carlos and former Canvey Island frontman George Purcell getting the all-important goals for the hosts at Parkside.

Hullbridge have now scored just 14 goals in their opening 13 outings in the fourth tier of non-league football - following their Essex Senior League title win last term - and Manning fears his side may be sucked into a relegation battle.

The Sports boss said: “We were good in two thirds of the pitch, but the final third is really worrying me now.

“We don’t look like we want to score and, as a manager, that is concerning because the aim of football is to score goals.

“When you’re on the edge of the box and passing it back to your right-back, it’s a diagonal pass in the wrong direction.

“It’s really concerning and I’ve told the players that they need to fix up otherwise we will make a decision.

“But it’s tough with the resources we have got to go and get someone who will score 20 goals a season.

“It’s impossible for us to do that so we need to work with what we’ve got.

“We’ve scored one goal in three games and probably had two shots on target in that time, so it’s concerning.

“If it carries on like that, we’ll be in a relegation scrap and that’s not where I want to be.”

Carlos gave Grays a 15th minute lead by finishing off a fine move involving Jack McQueen, Macauley Joynes and Mitch Hahn.

Sports goalkeeper Lewis Greene then kept out a Carlos header, while Jamal Allen made an impressive block when Hahn had the goal at his mercy after being unselfishly fed by Purcell.

But, having passed up some fine opportunities, Purcell wrapped up all three points with a driven free-kick which found the bottom corner of the net with just eight minutes remaining.

Hullbridge failed to trouble Grays goalkeeper Danny Sambridge, which allowed the hosts to record back-to-back clean sheets.

But Manning was pleased with the display of substitute Callum Fitzer.

“Callum was the one player who showed some attacking intent,” added Manning.

“If I’m honest, he was very close to starting and he has done himself a lot of favours with his performance.

“He came on, showed a great attitude and intensity.”