Mission accomplished for Paul Tong and his Kirkley & Pakefield side
IT'S a case of mission accomplished for Paul Tong and his young Kirkley & Pakefield side after four points over the Easter period confirmed the club will be playing in the Premier Division next season.
A thumping 6-1 win over strugglers Wivenhoe on Saturday was followed up on Monday by an impressive 1-1 draw at home to Norwich United.
The Easter points haul gave the Royals the points they needed to fulfil Tong's remit when he was brought to replace Jon Reynolds and the former Yarmouth boss admitted to a sense of relief.
'I'm really proud of the lads and I think the experience of this season will stand them in good stead,' said Tong, whose own future at the club remains uncertain.
'To be honest I don't think they ever thought they were really in a relegation fight.
'With youth you can get that kind of naivety and perhaps that has worked to our advantage. I'm really proud of the way they have approached things and I think the future is bright for them.
'Myself, Marty and Robbie have been looking establish a winning mentality among them and I think that process has been going well.'
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Kirkley approached the match against Wivenhoe knowing defeat could plunge them right back into a relegation fight and Tong was delighted with how his young charges handled the pressure.
'I think we've probably played better during my time here but it's certainly the best performance they have given when the pressure has been really on,' he said. 'I'm proud of the way they approached the game – they didn't show any fear and we've got our reward.
'Russell (Stock) got us going with a couple of good goals and the lads kicked on from there.'
Despite being safe, Tong is adamant he doesn't want his side's season to peter out and hopes his side can climb the table further when in-form Diss come to Walmer Road tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
'The challenge for us now is to finish the season as strongly as possible. We're up against Diss this weekend, who on form are probably the best team in the division – they have been on a fantastic run and Rob Taylor has really got them going.'