PICKERING Town are virtually assured of Evo-Stik League survival following AFC Mansfield's impending relegation from the east division - but the Pikes are not putting their feet up just yet.

Mansfield are due to drop back down to Step 5 after failing to meet ground-grading criteria by the deadline of March 31.

League officials have now confirmed that the Bulls will take one of the Step 4 relegation spots, essentially granting a reprieve to the team that finishes second-bottom.

The Pikes currently sit 16th in the table with 33 points, six ahead of 19th-placed Carlton Town and eight above Gresley with three games to play.

Although Pickering looked likely to avoid the drop anyway, with their superior goal difference, one point would likely be enough to ward off Gresley's advances should the improbable happen and the bottom side win all three of their remaining games and Pickering lose theirs.

Pickering Town chairman Wayne Taylor said: "With three games to go, we're still going to go out to get as many points as we can and stay in the league on our own merit.

"It's nice to know we'll be playing Evo-Stik League football next season but it'd be nice to say it's because of our own work over the year."

Manager Denny Ingram echoed these sentiments, adding: "It's bittersweet because, although we're safe, I wanted it to be because of us and not somebody else.

"I feel for the (Mansfield) players, (manager) Mark Ward and Froggy (Jon Froggatt, assistant manager) because they've done a remarkable job trying to get them in a position of being safe, like us.

"Like I said before the Morpeth game, we're relatively safe, but I'm not interested in that.

"What we do from now until the end of the season is to build for next season and hit the ground running.

"It's nice to get confirmation but it doesn't mean anything to me really, it doesn't change how I approach the games or what I expect of the players when they pull on the Pickering Town shirt."