PICKERING Town left it mightily late but they have won promotion from the Northern Counties East League premier division.

Casey Stewart’s 81st-minute goal gave them 2-1 win in the final game of the season at Hall Road Rangers on Saturday, with the victory sealing second place in the table and ensuring they would be playing Evo-Stik League north football next season.

The Pikes' late show was not confined to just the last-day win either.

In this past week, Paul Marshall's men have played three games from which they needed a minimum of five points to leapfrog the league’s long-time leaders AFC Mansfield into second on goal difference.

They endured a goalless stalemate at Staveley Miners Welfare last Tuesday, before Joe Danby’s 75th-minute goal salvaged a 1-1 draw at Barton Town on Thursday, meaning all three points were required from Saturday's trip to Hull.

Manager Marshall has hailed his promoted side’s heroics as well as offering congratulations to the league’s winners, Pontefract Collieries, who finished six points above the Pikes.

He said: “We’ve been beaten by the best team in the league – fair play to Pontefract.

“They’ve had to play Mansfield, Maltby (Main) and Handsworth Parramore and beat those teams away from home in the last two weeks to win the league.

“I’d like to say well done to them, it’s thoroughly deserved. They’ve scored the most goals – we’ve scored the second most – and that’s what’s decided the league.

“They’ve just had a slightly better defensive record. We’ve drawn too many games.

“I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved. It will be the highest level Pickering has ever played.

"The players we have at Pickering have been amazing – they turn up week in, week out, come what may, and I’ve never had a player who cries off because it’s too far to travel.

“At this level of football, where they’ve worked all day and then have to play four games in eight days – I’m absolutely proud of them.

“I’ve been at other teams where players will throw one in, but the lads here I find amazing.

“We will give the Evo-Stik League a good crack. If I can keep them together they will do extremely well next season.

“I wouldn’t be frightened going into the Evo-Stik with the squad we have. We won’t be going just to stay up, we’ll be aiming for the top spots and the play-offs.”

Match report

Saturday's final game saw few clear-cut chances in the first half, although Pickering went close a couple of times, with Hall Road keeper Joe Piercy producing a good stop from Ryan Cooper when he was clean through on goal and denying Stewart from close range with his boot.

Charlie Andrew, the Manager’s Player of the Year for Pickering this term, was called on at the other end to turn Chris Spinks’ drilled away at the near post.

Danby struck 11 minutes after the restart to put the Pikes in pole position with a side-footed effort into the bottom right corner. Piercy got a hand to it but there was too much power in the shot.

Dane Mortimer cancelled out the lead with a looping header into the far corner with Charlie Andrew well beaten in the 70th minute.

But Stewart was on hand to restore Pickering’s slight advantage with just nine minutes of normal time remaining, nodding in from close-range after Carl Stewart’s header across goal to spark huge celebrations from the visitors.

The Pikes were helped over the line as Reggie Waud was dismissed for a fierce studs-up challenge on Niall Tilsley.


Pickering: Andrew, Tilsley, Bissett, Cooper, Turnbull, Cass, Dalton, Birch, Carl Stewart, Casey Stewart, Danby. Subs: Freer, Belt, Dunnett, Ingram, Blott


The Pikes next season have battles against North Yorkshire rivals Tadcaster Albion to look forward to, with the Brewers having suffered play-off disappointment at Bamber Bridge last Tuesday night.

Pickering may not have finished top of the league, but striker Ryan Blott comfortably topped the scoring charts for NCEL premier division goals, with 45 to his name.

AFC Mansfield's Oliver Fearon was next with 37.