Kirkley & Pakefield boss insists Royals aren’t safe yet
Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong insists the Royals are still not safe despite gaining a crucial 2-1 win against Felixstowe & Walton last weekend.
Dominic Smith's brace helped take K&P to 39 points – one point away from the target set by Tong – and the Kirkley chief believes they will still need at least another point to ensure Premier Division football next season.
'It was a good result but we're not safe yet,' said Tong, whose side are without a game this weekend. 'Wivenhoe won at Haverhill in midweek so they will still feel they can get out of it.
'We are obviously in a better position than we were in after the result at the weekend and the lads deserve a lot of credit for that.
'I still think 40 will be enough but we're not there yet. We've got to go to Wivenhoe (on March 31) and get a result – personally I still think we will finish above both Wivenhoe and Walsham – we will wait and see.
'But we aren't counting any chickens yet – I've been around football long enough to know that things can change very quickly.'
Tong was delighted with his troops on Saturday but admitted he would have settled for a point when the Seasiders equalised in the second half.
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'We were excellent in the first half on Saturday – Kyle Baker in particular was causing havoc,' he added. 'We had a couple of decent chances and should have gone in at the break further ahead although Jordan (Smith) produced an excellent save.
'They equalised in the second half and if I'm being honest I would have taken a point but we were brave and threw Stocky (Russell Stock) on and we found a winner.'
It was that man Smith who would once again prove to be the Royals' saviour but Tong believes the former Yarmouth man is yet to scale the heights he achieved earlier in the season following injury.
'I don't think he is quite back to his best yet but he is getting there. They call him 'three lungs' around the club because of the work he gets through and he has been tremendous for me this season.
'He leads by example – he was with me at Yarmouth and I've always known he's a quality player.'
Tong makes no apologies for the style of football employed recently with results all that matter to ensure Premier League survival.
'It's all about results at this stage of the season – some of the football has not been pretty but some people forget just how young some of these lads are.
'I was speaking to some of the fans and to be honest they have been spoilt in the past with some of the players they've had. You look at the likes of Chris Henderson and Nathan Stone who have gone on in their careers.
'The club is going in a different direction now – my remit when I came in was to keep the club up and we are close to achieving that goal.'