PICKERING Town have not had the easiest of pre-seasons - but manager Denny Ingram is confident fortunes will change for the start of the league season.

Six games into preparations for the 2019/20 Northern Premier League north/west division campaign, the Pikes have lost five and conceded no fewer than four goals in each defeat.

But of chief concern to Ingram is the number of players he has had missing.

For the most recent friendly - the 4-2 defeat to York City at Mill Lane last Tuesday (July 30) - Ingram was forced to play without summer signing Joel Dixon and striker Danny Earl, who both picked up first-half red cards in the 4-0 defeat to Bridlington Town the Saturday previously, while Hull City loanee keeper Harrison Foulkes was unavailable. Because of work commitments, Earl is likely to only play on weekends.

"It's been an absolute nightmare - you couldn't write it," Ingram said.

"It just seems like we take one step forwards and two or three back.

"Today we were supposed to have our number one goalkeeper signed on, but the paperwork wasn't completed in time.

"The game on Saturday, we had two experienced players make silly decisions and get sent off. They paid the price tonight because they were suspended - but that could be a blessing in disguise because they won't be missing for the start of the season.

"Just when you're thinking you're getting some kind of squad back together, something pops up and puts a spanner in the works."

With Pickering receiving a bye in the FA Cup, they have been able to slot in another friendly, which they will play at North Yorkshire rivals Whitby Town on Saturday, August 10, four days after hosting Scarborough Athletic.

And the big league kick off comes on August 17 with a trip to Workington, who were relegated from the NPL premier division last term.

Ingram added: "With the players we've brought in, I think we've strengthened. Joel Dixon has been a breath of fresh air, albeit a silly sending off on Saturday.

"Young Jackson Jowett looks a very very good signing. We just need to get him over this little niggly injury.

"Matty Savage has come in and done really well. We've brought Mikey Hollingsworth in as well, vast experience from a league higher.

"We'll be there or thereabouts.

"We've got another four or five to come in who'll push to start.

"Danny Earl works away in Portsmouth and is only available on weekends, but the kid's been an absolute dream for us. You take the rough with the smooth.

"We should have a full squad to pick from."

Pickering started the defeat to York well, going in at half-time 2-0 up, having made the most of the few chances afforded to either side. Triallist Issy Pearson benefitted from an awful mix-up between City centre-back Mark McManus and keeper Ryan Whitley to tap home before Hollingsworth headed home at the back post from Ryan Blott's inswinging free kick.

But York - galvanised by a half-time rollicking - came flying out of the traps in the second half. Wes York pulled one back three minutes after the restart, and not long after, Liam Smith had the visitors level with a sharp strike from the edge of the area.

Smith might have been a bit miffed that Macaulay Langstaff got in on the goalscoring action in the 56th minute, especially as the striker took it upon himself to nudge ball over the line after Smith had rounded the keeper and set the ball rolling comfortably goalwards.

He did get his second, though, tapping into an empty net after second-half substitute Kiari Ventura hit the inside of a post.