Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong admits his young side keep surprising him after watching them recover from 3-1 down to earn a point at Felixstowe & Walton.

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Tong paid tribute the spirit displayed by his side as second-half goals from Ross King and Kyle Baker ensured the Royals came away with a point and make it only one defeat in their last 10 games.

“They keep surprising me really,” said Tong, who saw Ryan Crisp level matters in the first half after going a goal down early on. “We were without our two first choice centre halves which was a blow but Flower came in and did very well, apart from the striker’s finish he showed in scoring an own goal.

“They brought on a substitute at the start of the second half and he had a real impact down the flank, putting in some excellent crosses which saw them go 3-1 in front.

“I threw on Joe Bell and Kyle Baker and both came on and did well. To be honest we could have won it in the end but when you’re 3-1 down in the second half then you take a point. We’ve now only lost one in 10 games, which shows the progress we’re making.”

Tong said Saturday was a proud day for the club with 10 youth team players involved with the first team and the reserves.

The former Great Yarmouth boss is pleased to be continuing the club’s tradition of putting its trust in the youngsters.

“It’s a real testament to what the club is trying to achieve,” he said. “Eight players with the reserves and two with the first team shows how good the youth system is that we’ve got.”

Kirkley welcome Godmanchester to Walmer Road tomorrow and Tong admits his side need to start picking up some victories if they are to achieve his target at the end of the season, which is a closely guarded secret between himself and the squad.

“We need a few wins to get us back on track but the lads are doing all right – they will learn from their mistakes. What we lack in experience we make up for in spirit and commitment.

“It will be a tough game on Saturday – they’ve had some good results already this season. We’ve got to be positive and keep doing what we believe in.”

– Kirkley & Pakefield Reserves have been drawn at home against either Leiston Reserves or Needham Market Reserves in the Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup. The tie will be played on Saturday, January 12.

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