Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong is managing a goalkeeper crisis at Walmer Road with Jordan Smith out of action for the next few weeks.

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The young shot-stopper’s work commitments means Tong will have to look outside the club for a new number one with reserve goalkeeper Dave Attridge also away.

“We’ve got a bit of a problem at the moment in terms of our goalkeepers,” said Tong, who takes his side to bottom of the table Clacton this weekend. “Due to work commitments Jordan Smith is going to be unavailable for a few weeks and with Dave Attridge also away it has presented me with a bit of a problem.

“Jordan will be a massive loss to us – since he came into the side last season he has been outstanding. But there are a couple of calls in as we speak and we will see where it gets us.”

Kirkley secured their third consecutive draw in the league last weekend at home to Godmanchester and Tong admitted his side had failed to build on a good start after Kyle Baker had given the Royals the lead.

A sloppy start to the second half saw the visitors roar back into the contest and Kirkley had to rely on Ross King’s second goal in two games to secure a share of the spoils.

“On our first half performance it was two points dropped but on the second half it was a point gained,” added Tong. “In the first half we played quite well but we got sloppy in the second and were made to pay for it.

“We went 1-0 up and if we had taken our chances then it would be a different story. But we stopped pressuring the ball and they had the quality to take advantage of that.

“To go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down in quick time was a shock to the system but I can’t fault the way the lads responded after that. We could have even won it in the end.”

Tong paid tribute to King after the striker’s goal secured a point and hopes the club’s youngsters continue to learn from the marksman.

“He is a marvellous presence in the team for the younger lads,” he said. “There’s no airs or graces about him and I can honestly say he is one of the best players I’ve had the chance to manage.

“He has taken over the mantle from Russell Stock as being the player the younger lads look to. He’s a bit lighter though!”

Kirkley will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to Clacton but Tong warned his side they must not take the strugglers lightly.

“Those teams around the bottom are always trying to turn things around and it makes it very tough,” he said. “We need to concentrate on turning draws into wins. I think it’s down to a lack of experience but they will learn.”

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