Kirkley ready for survival battle at Wivenhoe – Tong
Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong is sure his players can handle the pressure of this weekend's relegation tussle at Wivenhoe, kick-off 3pm.
The Royals chief has dubbed the match as 'the biggest game of their season' with victory virtually guaranteeing the club's Premier League status for another season.
Kirkley has turned to its youth system to help drag the senior squad out of the relegation mire and Tong is adamant his players are capable of gaining three crucial points at Wivenhoe.
'I think it's the biggest game in the club's season – they don't come any bigger than this,' he said. 'If we can get a result then it all but secures our Premier League status for next season.
'I'm sure the lads will rise to it as well – it's still all in our hands, which is a nice position to be in.
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'As long as we work hard and play to our strengths then we'll be all right. I'm still confident that we will finish above Walsham as well.'
It's been a big ask of the club's youngsters to stave off the threat of relegation but these players have been complemented by the likes of Russell Stock and Ryan De Coteau in their plight.
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Tong is sure his squad will thrive on the pressure of tomorrow's game.
'That's what football is all about. You want to play in these sorts of games when there is a lot riding on it.'
Tong believes that survival is the minimum many people around Walmer Road deserve for their efforts this season.
'It takes a lot of work to run a football club and some of the players probably don't see that,' he said.
'It's the management and the players' jobs to reward that effort and that's why we want to do the business for them. It would be a reward for everyone.'
Tong believes the future is bright for the Royals although it is unclear whether he will be tasked with leading the club again next season at this stage.
'I just get on with my job – I've really enjoyed it,' he said.
'The only thing you can guarantee as a manager is that you will get the sack one day.
'The lads will be better for this experience and whoever takes this club on, me or anyone else, has a very good platform to build from.'