Kirkley & Pakefield boss looks to build on Clacton display
Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong believes if his players can reproduce the form they showed in the 1-1 draw at Clacton for the rest of the season then the club will retain their Ridgeons Premier League status.
The Royals could count themselves a little unfortunate not to leave the Essex outfit with more than the point earned courtesy of Dominic Smith's first half penalty.
But, after making several changes to the side, Tong was pleased with the level of his troops' display and hopes it can inspire his squad to securing what would be a vital win over fellow strugglers Walsham-le-Willows this weekend.
'The boys were disappointed not to get the win (at Clacton),' said Tong. 'We played really well in the first half and should have been further in front before we got caught by a sucker punch before half-time.
'But I'm really proud of the lads – I asked them to play without fear and that's exactly what they did – there was a freedom about us. We changed it up a bit and it worked. They came on strong in the second half as you would expect them to do being the home side but we hung in there and it's a point closer to survival as far as I'm concerned.
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'If we maintain that level of performance then we'll be okay.'
If the Royals can claim victory at Walsham tomorrow it would be a massive step to Premier League survival admitted Tong.
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'Obviously Walsham are in a bit of trouble like us and it's a massive game, but to be honest they are all big ones from hereon in. We just have to believe in what we do and we'll be going there looking to get all three points.
'We've got eight cup finals left and it's all to play for. We want to get to that 40-point mark as soon as possible and if the lads keep playing like they did on Saturday then we'll be alright.'
Saturday's point was built on a solid defensive display while Kyle Baker was a constant thorn in the side of the Clacton back four.
'Ryan De Coteau was a rock at the back and alongside Craig Roberts it looks the makings of a good partnership,' added Tong.
'But the whole back four were excellent and Kyle was a constant menace up front. Jordan (Smith) managed to recover in time and fair play to him because he made a crucial save at 1-1 in the second half. Only time will tell how big that save was.
'I was also really pleased with Ross Catchpole – he was tremendous for us. Since his injury he has been in and out for us but he controlled the midfield alongside the ever reliable Dominic Smith while Scott Manning put in a real shift as well.'