KIRKLEY & Pakefield boss Paul Tong admits his side have been brought back down to earth following their exit from the FA Cup last weekend at the hands of Southend Manor.

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The Royals slumped to a 2-0 defeat against the Essex Senior League side despite Tong’s men having enough chances to at least earn themselves a replay.

However, Tong is confident his young side can bounce back from their disappointment and build on the impressive start they have made in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.

“On the day we huffed and puffed and didn’t have enough about us to get back into the game,” said Tong, whose side go to Felixstowe & Walton in the FA Vase tomorrow.

“We created six chances to their three but we are being punished for every mistake that we make at the moment – we know our luck will change though.

“I’m gutted for the lads because we could and perhaps should have beaten them.”

Ross King and Ryan Crisp joined long-term absentee Lee Hunter on the sidelines and Tong admitted his side struggled without their fire power.

“We had some key players out and we haven’t got a big enough squad to replace those kinds of players,” he added. “But we are a young side and that means there will be a bit of inconsistency. We’ve got to keep working at it – I’m sure we will still be able to do what we want to do this season and that’s to make progress.

“No-one plays poorly on purpose but we will look to bounce back. I think it has brought a few back down to earth but we will keep working hard and see where it takes us.”

Tong’s men had a severe reality check against Dereham last week when the Magpies ran out convincing 3-0 winners.

But Tong was pleased with the attitude shown by his players despite their defeat, especially goalkeeper Dave Attridge after Jordan Smith was unavailable at late notice.

“Dave showed a great attitude and showed what a really good clubman he is,” said Tong. “He didn’t let anyone down against Dereham and then the following Saturday he is back in the reserves captaining them. That’s the kind of attitude you want to see as a manager.”

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