DORCHESTER Town sensation Jonah Ayunga has been congratulated on his rise into the professional game by former youth coach Terry Warren.

And the 18-year-old, who featured in his first game for Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21s against Arsenal Under-21s on Friday, could have been unearthed much sooner, according to the coach.

Warren, who was involved in Ayunga’s coaching and development from under-11 level at Bridport Youth, told Echosport: “We were writing letters to professional clubs for a season or two about him and we did get some replies but in the last couple of seasons we lost a lot of games due to the weather.

“Whether anyone actually came to look at him or not I don’t know to be honest but we did write the letters to all the clubs within a reasonable distance.

“If I’m honest I really hope this puts the area on the map because I think it was probably off the scouts’ radars.

“Even though Jonah was playing for the county and I had four or five boys in my team playing for the county, they still weren’t getting looked at.

“So it may make a bit of an impact on the area which would be fantastic because there are some good players out there.”

He added: “Obviously we knew how good Jonah was.

“I am so pleased for him that it has happened. It is fantastic.

“He absolutely deserves his chance and I am thrilled. All the rest of the team that he played with for all those years are as well.”

As well as describing the former Bridport Youth and Dorchester Town prospect as a “natural goalscorer” Warren also believes the youngster’s work-rate has helped him get to where he is today.

“In the last couple of years in particular he has worked so hard and was always very talented,” the coach added.

“There were two or three in the team who I thought should go further but Jonah, more than anyone else, was probably more determined to make a career in football.

“He has always been a good player and is a natural goalscorer.

“I know he had a really good time at Dorchester and really enjoyed it there. Obviously they looked after him there and haven’t held him back so that’s great.

“I will go and see him of course which will be fun.”