Great Yarmouth ‘ahead of schedule’
Great Yarmouth Town slumped to a disappointing 5-2 reverse at strugglers Felixstowe at the weekend, but Yarmouth boss Paul Tong felt the score could have been different in a bizarre game.
'In all my years of management, I've never been involved in a game like it; the first half was probably the best I have seen a Yarmouth side play, even in my seven years previous at the club, we just missed chance, after chance, after chance.
'We went 1-0 down, came in 2-1 up and we were cruising, it could have been seven, as there committee and manager said afterwards. We did not take our chances and we paid for it in the second half.'
Despite this disappointing result, Tong insists his team are ahead of schedule in their quest to consolidate following promotion last year. He has praised his young side for stepping up their game to deal with the demands of the Ridgeons Premier.
'We are ahead of schedule; I think the boys have done very well.
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'We have played the majority of the big teams in the League; Wroxham twice, Kirkley twice and Leiston and Dereham once. So we are playing the top sides and the lads have equipped themselves very well. The main difference between Ridgeons Division One and Ridgeons Premier Division is if you make a silly mistake, you get punished for it.
'In Division One we could always make a mistake and get away with it, and go straight up the other end and score, but this just does not happen in the Prem.'
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Teams in the Ridgeons Premier play 42 games a season compared to only 32 in the Ridgeons Division One. The former Fakenham and Diss Town manager Tong claims the increase in games has highlighted the lack of cover in his Yarmouth squad.
'The problems we have got is not enough strength in depth, we have had to promote the youth. I have had to promote some of the reserves to the first team squad, although the reserves and youth team are performing very well this year.
'My team are young and naive and are having trouble coming to terms with playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday. In Division One you had a midweek game every now and then, but the fixtures are now coming thick and fast.'
Another problem Tong feels his side have to address is their home form. Yarmouth were unbeaten at The Wellesley Ground last season, but have failed to pick up a victory there this season and found all their success on the road. The Bloaters have picked up an impressive five wins away from home, including a stunning 3-2 victory at title favourites Wroxham.
'Last year our home ground was a fortress; we did not lose any games, and tore some teams apart. But this season we cannot buy a win, the only win has come against Norwich United in the League Cup, and we needed extra time for that.'
Despite this, the job Paul Tong has done at Yarmouth cannot be overlooked. Yarmouth are currently sitting pretty in 12th position with no real threat of relegation and are beginning to look like they belong in this division.