THE slow start which blighted Pickering Town’s campaign last season “can’t happen” again, declared assistant boss Steve Brown in the countdown to the new term.

After the Pikes concluded their pre-season programme against Evo-Stik League outfit Whitby Town last night, the Recreation Ground number two wants his players to come flying out of the blocks in their Northern Counties East League premier division opener at Worksop Parramore on Saturday (kick off 3pm).

Brown was dissatisfied with several aspects of the team’s performance in a 3-1 loss at Bishop Auckland in the Eric Powell Charity Cup final at the weekend, which pits the winners of the North Riding Senior Cup against their County Durham equivalent.

And he also believes they could have done better in a 3-1 home defeat to Scarborough Athletic in a friendly eight days ago.

With cricket still being played at Mill Lane, Pickering will once again be on their travels in the first month of the new campaign – their first seven league and cup games are on the road.

But Brown, assistant to manager Jimmy Reid, said that despite some concerns about the number of goals conceded during pre-season, Pickering would be “focused and prepared” for the start of term.

“If we play to our potential, we will have a positive start,” he said.

“They are a good bunch of lads, they are pretty fit and we need to get up and running quickly.

“We’ve got a tough start – matches away from home – and we start at Worksop, who will be one of the favourites for the league.

“There are not too many easy trips in our league and that seems even more the case this time.

“We’ve got a difficult start but that’s the way it is. Everyone has to play each other twice and we certainly want to get off to a better start than was the case last year.

“Six weeks in and we had no chance of finishing any higher than we did and that can’t happen this year. We are fully focused and prepared for the task ahead.”On the 3-1 loss in County Durham, Brown added: “We had some unavailability and illness but I am pretty sure we will be fine on Saturday.

“I wasn’t satisfied at the weekend – fair play to the lads that went and put on a good show but it was not our finest hour. We need to move on pretty quickly.

“We’ve been good in parts in pre-season. There have been some pleasing performances – from individuals and as a team – and there have been one or two little episodes that I haven’t been so pleased with.

“But I am pretty difficult to please.”

Illness, unavailability and injury meant Pickering only took a threadbare squad to Bishop Auckland and they played with 10 men in the second half after Robbie Hawkes limped off injured.

Craig Hodgson opened the scoring for the home side after six minutes, from Dan Hawkins’ cross, but Pickering equalised midway through the first half when, following good build-up play between Hawkes and Lewis Taylor, Steve Baxter ran on and scored from eight yards.

Arran Reid then pulled off a fine save to deny Danny Brunskill scoring with a header and Hawkes had a shot cleared off the line by Lee Bythyway.

The Pikes put up a spirited fight after the break with a man less but Bishop regained the lead with eight minutes to go when Liam Shepherd headed into his own net.

In the final minute, a second Hodgson goal put the seal on the victory.

Pickering: A Reid, T Reid, Shepherd. Readman, Laws, Taylor, Hawkes, Philips, Baxter, Fenwick, Danby.

Last Tuesday, the Pikes hosted Evo-Stik League neighbours Scarborough Athletic and lost 3-1.

James Bennett put Athletic ahead after 10 minutes and Gary Bradshaw doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Baxter scored for the Pikes after 77 minutes but Henry Sibenge netted in the final minute for Boro.