MANAGER Paul Marshall has admitted Pickering Town are in a relegation battle ahead of Saturday's "must-win" game - but believes they have enough spirit to survive.

Pickering are 15th in the Evo-Stik League east division, two points above the relegation zone, and visit bottom side Gresley off the back of last weekend's 3-1 defeat at play-off hopefuls Sheffield FC.

And the Pikes will go to Derbyshire without Hull City Academy keeper Charlie Andrew, whose impressive one-and-a-half years at Mill Lane has earned him a loan move to National League North promotion hopefuls Bradford Park Avenue.

Marshall said: "Gresley is a must-win game. They're struggling and they've just got a new manager who lost his first game 5-0, so they're going to look to turn that around very quickly.

"It's a huge game for us because it will go a long way to securing safety.

"We're in a relegation battle - we have had two wins from seven. Everybody knows it's a relegation battle and not mid-table safety we're in.

"We've got to take the points from our games in hand. That's the only thing we have in our favour. And we've got to win those to stay in the league we worked to hard to get into.

"All the players have got a lot of spirit in them. We've had a couple of poor results but generally, for our first season at this level, we're competing well against bigger clubs with bigger budgets.

"I'm sure we'll stay up."

Since joining on work experience in 2017, 19-year-old Andrew steadily became Pickering's first-choice keeper and made 63 appearances for the Pikes, keeping 16 clean sheets.

Hull, however, have been impressed with the experience Pickering gave Andrew and will entrust the Mill Lane outfit with developing 18-year-old second-year scholar Harrison Foulkes, will go straight into contention for Saturday after joining on a youth loan deal.

"It's a big blow," Marshall said of Andrew's departure. "Charlie has been outstanding for us.

"With Bradford Park Avenue taking him on loan at Conference North level, hopefully he'll end up being a professional goalkeeper.

"I trust Steve (Croudson, Hull Academy goalkeeping coach). He knows the standard, what we're about and he can't speak highly enough of the way me and Denny (Ingram, Pickering assistant manager) looked after him."

At Sheffield last Saturday, Andrew Gascoigne gave the hosts an eighth-minute lead from the spot after Matty Turnbull was pulled up for a foul in the box.

Minutes later, Pickering had the chance to draw level with a penalty of their own but Jonathan Hedge saved Ryan Blott's effort. Stuart Ludlum doubled the hosts' advantage midway through the first period.

Pickering came out strongly after the break but only got on the scoresheet with five minutes to go as Adam Lund headed home his first goal for the club.

As the Pikes pushed for the equaliser, Sheffield broke and found a third to settle home nerves very late on.

Marshall said: "We played very well, the second half especially.

"I didn't think Matty's was a penalty, he was shepherding him out and as it was going out, he slid in to make sure he didn't get the cross in - very dubious.

"But I don't think ours was either, so I think the referee had thought he'd better give us one as well.

"It was the same story as last week, we missed our penalty before they (Stocksbridge Park Steels) scored and this time they (Sheffield) scored before we missed ours.

"Especially in the second half, we had a right go at them. We missed a good chance - Matty was distraught he missed the chance to make it 2-2 - but credit to the players, it was an outstanding second half in driving rain.

"Unfortunately, in the 94th minute, they broke away and scored the third. On another day, it would be 2-2 if Matty scores from the free header - he's usually one of our best headers of the ball and he was just upset because it would have got us a point.

"We're hoping to get something out of every game but we're not having the rub of the green at the minute, and decisions are going against us, which they do when you're at the bottom.

"We're as good as most teams in the league on our day and we showed that on Saturday."