KIRKLEY & Pakefield boss Paul Tong has warned his senior players they “need to stand up and be counted” after going down 3-2 to high-flying Walsham-le-Willows last weekend.

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After falling behind early on Kirkley roared back into the game before the break thanks to goals from Max Kirkby and Dominic Smith.

However, a below-par second-half display allowed Walsham a route back into the contest and it was an opportunity they were only too happy to take. Tong admitted to being disappointed some of his more experienced players couldn’t stop the Walsham onslaught after half-time.

“We lacked experience and it showed in our performance,” he said. “One or two of the senior players have got to stand up and be counted – they’ve got to step up to the mark.

“Other players are knocking at the door and they will get their chance but I’m a great believer in giving players the chance to put their mistakes right.

“Players have got to take responsibility and work hard. I felt that one or two didn’t put in enough effort on Saturday and that’s something that won’t be tolerated.”

The fact Walsham’s goals all came from set-pieces only added to Tong’s frustration.

“We were gutted to be honest – all three goals were sloppy,” he said. “If you continually concede from set-pieces then you’re going to struggle. Walsham showed in the second half that they are not near the top of the table for nothing. They pressed us and we couldn’t respond.”

Tong believes the Royals need one more win to ensure they retain their Premier League status and hopes they can get that sooner rather than later with Clacton coming to Walmer Road tomorrow, kick-off 3pm

“We’ve got the likes of Clacton, Wivenhoe, Diss and Thetford coming up – all teams fighting for their lives. We probably need another win to be safe and if we can’t get that in our remaining games then we don’t deserve to be in the Premier Division.”

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