KIRKLEY & Pakefield had to have two bites of the FA Cup cherry this week but finally advanced into the preliminary round with a 7-3 win at Sawbridgeworth on Tuesday evening.

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A 1-1 draw at Walmer Road on Saturday meant the two sides had to do it all over again in Essex but Paul Tong’s men didn’t make any mistake this time as they unceremiously put the Essex side to the sword.

Tong, whose first job upon his appointment last season was to shore up a leaky defence, admitted he may have to get used to seeing his side conceding a few as long as they keep hammering in the goals at the other end. “I said to Marty (Hubble) during pre-season that we are scoring a lot of goals but we are going to concede a few as a result,” he said. “Maybe that’s something that I’ve got to come to terms with.

“We’ve just got to cut out the silly mistakes – it seems that every mistake we make gets fully punished.

“We should have done the job on Saturday to be honest. We had a few players out injured or unavailable but the lads rolled up their sleeves and got on with it.

“We started the game like a house on fire and were 3-0 up in 12 minutes. Of course, we then shot ourselves in the foot by conceding two before half-time and it’s all up for grabs.

“But I think yhey had their chance on Saturday – we didn’t play well, I knew we could do better.

“We changed it around a bit and played higher up the pitch and it paid off, particularly in the second half.”

Michael Tacon set the Royals on their way before Scott Woodcock and Ross Catchpole put Tong’s men firmly in charge.

However, a lapse in concentration before half-time saw Sawbridgeworth pull two goals back.

After half-time Kirkley took charge again with Kyle Baker netting to give the visitors a bit of breathing spalce. Catchpole and Woodcock then struck to make it 6-2 before Joe Bell rounded things off with a fine free-kick. Sawbridgeworth pulled another back in injury time but the damage had already been done.

The challenge for Kirkley now is to take this form into this weekend’s league match at home to CRC. Tong admitted he will have a few selection dilemmas.

“Someone said to me that you must now know how Roberto Mancini feels but it’s never nice leaving people out. We’ve got real competition for places now but we’re going to need it.

“CRC will be a tough game – they will be fit and well organised and it’s important every member of the squad is ready when called upon.”

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