DARREN Manning was pleased to see Dan Walker’s fruitful start to life at Hullbridge Sports continue in midweek.

The former Southend United youngster came back to haunt former club Heybridge Swifts by scoring twice in a 3-2 defeat to the Isthmian North high-flyers.

And Manning is pleased Walker, who made the move to Heybridge after scoring just one goal during a frustrating spell with Great Wakering Rovers, has been productive since completing his transfer.

“Dan was superb against Heybridge,” said Sports boss Manning.

“That’s three goals in two starts now and he is proving why we worked so hard to get him to the club.

“He is a top forward at this level and is only just getting started with us.”

However, Walker’s brace was not enough for Hullbridge to secure points at the Aspen Waite Arena.

Walker opened the scoring on the half-hour mark by meeting Emmanuel Okunja’s low cross with a fine backheeled finish at the near post.

Heybridge struggled to break the visitors down and the closest they came to a first half goal was when Alex Teniola headed Jey Siva’s corner onto the roof of the net.

However, the hosts were level just seconds after the restart as Emmanuel Osei-Owusu’s driven cross was turned into the back of his own net by Matt Rose.

The clash was turned on its head inside three minutes as Odei Martin converted an Evans Kouassi delivery from close range.

But Hullbridge restored parity soon after as Walker rounded off a sweeping counter-attack by lifting the ball over the advancing Luca Collins.

It looked as though it would finish honours even, but Alex Teniola headed home with eight minutes remaining.

Teniola was denied a last-gasp second goal when Hullbridge goalkeeper Lewis Greene denied the striker after going through one-on-one.

Although he was disappointed to see his side concede a late winner, Manning admitted Sports were not at the standards set.

“We weren’t at our best,” added Manning.

“I thought we dropped below our standards but the boys dug deep and showed they have the fight and hunger to really compete at this level.

“The fact we didn’t play particularly well and still took a team in contention for promotion all the way until the 85th minute says a lot about my team.”