KIRKLEY & Pakefield boss Paul Tong thought his side “deserved something” after watching his side go down to a brave defeat at Mildenhall on Saturday.

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Tong was pleased with his side’s overall display but felt they were punished for the mistakes they made allowing Mildenhall to maintain their challenge at the top end of the division.

“For the first 20 minutes it was the best football we had played all season,” said Tong, who will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend when the Royals take on Stanway at Walmer Road (kick-off 3pm).

“I was gutted for the lads – any mistake we made we were punished for despite being the better side for long periods.

“We got caught out defensively on several occasions and we need to learn to cut out the mistakes.”

After falling 2-0 behind Kirkley showed their resolve to come back into the game as Kyle Baker reduced the arrears before Ross King had a good chance at the start of the second half to level.

Tong believes this may have been a turning point in the contest.

“We thought we were still in it at 2-1 but they started the second half as the beter side although Ross King had a good chance to make it 2-2 and if he had taken that then it might have been a different story.

“They then made it 3-1 before Micky Tacon got us back into it but we then got caught out again through our own slack marking.

“We showed our spirit to come back to 4-3 through Baker again and the Rocket (Russell Stock) had a good chance late on which he might have taken if he had been fully match fit. We deserved something.”

Tong was full of praise for young goalkeeper Hayden Rogers who was drafted in for his senior debut because Jordan Smith and Dave Attridge were both unavailable.

“It was a great baptism for Hayden Rogers, he came in from the youth set-up because Jordan Smith and Dave Attridge were unavailable and he acquitted himself very well – he wasn’t at fault for any of the goals and he made some crucial saves to keep us in it.”

Tong also offered hope that long-term absentee Lee Hunter could be back in just over a month’s time following a knee injury sustained in pre-season.

“He is coming along nicely – he took part in the warm up at the weekend but he’s still about four to six weeks away. It’s great to have him around the group though and he will be a great asset to us when he’s fit.”

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