Kirkley boss predicts bright future for Royals
Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong has predicted a bright future for the Royals despite seeing their seven-match unbeaten run come to an end against Lowestoft Town in the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Despite going down to a 2-0 defeat, Kirkley left with their pride intact having given their neighbours a scare thanks to a stubborn rearguard, who refused to yield to Lowestoft's quality going forward.
'I'm sure if everyone looks back over how we've played recently then there's no reason why we can't take this club forward,' said Tong, whose arrival at Walmer Road has coincided with the club's recent upturn.
'I'm really proud of how we played (against Lowestoft). To be fair to the lads we could have thrown the towel in after conceding so early but we didn't.
'Lowestoft were respectful and played a strong side and they are obviously a quality team but I'm proud of our boys and it shows what they can achieve if they keep working at it.
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'We dug in and (Kyle) Baker and Dominic Smith came very close to bringing us back on terms. Before tonight we were seven games unbeaten and we could have extended that tonight – that just shows how far we've come when we're giving a club like Lowestoft a run for their money.'
Kirkley's display at Crown Meadow built on their impressive win in the league against Ridgeons high-flyers Wisbech.
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Tong's men fought back from 2-0 down to claim the points and he put down his side's second half resurgence to the noise made by the Walmer Road faithful.
'The difference was the shed – we had 140 people there and they lifted the roof off – they really got behind us. Kyle's introduction proved vital but overall I would have to say it was probably the best we've played since I've been here.
'The boys could have folded but we kept going and Kyle Baker came off the bench to score a classic and we kicked on from there.'
There was more good news for Kirkley after Tong confirmed that Russell Stock will remain with the club until the end of the season after his parent club, Lowestoft, sanctioned an extension to his loan.
'It's a big plus for us and we thank Lowestoft for that,' added the Kirkley. 'Joe Clark has come back for the moment and we will wait and see what happens on that one.'
Tong refused to take too much of the praise for the club's revival since he took charge, instead pointing to the work of his assistants Marty Hubble and Robbie Horton.
'I'm over the moon with the lads and the way they are playing – Robbie Horton has done a lot of work with them on the training pitch.
'I haven't changed a lot to be honest. Marty and Robbie have worked tirelessly and they are a credit to the club. It's a great partnership really – I've just come in and I've probably been a bit hard on the squad to try and get that will to win.
'If I'm honest I think the thing that was missing was the will to win and the desire but we're getting that now and we all want to take the club forwards.'
Kirkley are at home to Ely this weekend (3pm kick-off).