Kirkley & Pakefield boss proud of his player after Wisbech defeat

Ridgeon League Premier Division fixture between Kirkley and Pakefield V Yarmouth Town (pink) Kirkle

Ridgeon League Premier Division fixture between Kirkley and Pakefield V Yarmouth Town (pink) Kirkley manager Paul Tong. - Credit: Archant © 2012

KIRKLEY & Pakefield boss Paul Tong was proud of his players despite watching the Royals go down to a 3-1 defeat against Wisbech in the semi-finals of the Red Insure Challenge Cup.

Scott Woodcock had given Kirkley an early lead with an excellent strike but the Fenmen roared into the semi-finals thanks to goals from Chris Bacon (two) and Lewis Clayton.

'It was an opportunity for the youngsters to step up and, to be fair to them, that's what they did,' he said. 'We were without several key players but the lads responded.

'Gabriel Mansbridge was outstanding at the heart of the defence against a very good centre forward.'

Tong admitted his side lacked the necessary experience to kill of Wisbech though after his side made an excellent start.

'We just couldn't maintain our level,' he said. 'We lacked the experience to see it through – we are struggling for leaders at the moment.

'That's why I brought Robbie Horton in – what he is lacking in match fitness he makes up for in experience.

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'We also had Ross King back but we were up against a top side. It's important our young lads gain this experience because it will stand them in good stead for the future.'

Kirkley welcome Thetford Town to Walmer Road tomorrow and, while Tong admits this season has been a disappointment, he believes the foundations are being laid for a brighter future.

'We have to take stock of where we are,' he said. 'At the moment it is a disappointing season but we have to look at where we were 12 months ago.

'We didn't even know what division we would be in next season. I think we need another win this campaign but we should be safe.

'If we keep showing the commitment that we showed on Wednesday then we will be all right – we will be able to take the club forward.'