PICKERING Town boss Denny Ingram has bemoaned his side's defensive frailties - and insists the Pikes need to stay positive.

Having conceded 16 goals this term, bottom side Pickering have the second-worst defensive record in the Northern Premier League north/west division, compounded by Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pontefract Collieries.

Ninth-placed Clitheroe are the visitors to Mill Lane this weekend, when the Pikes will hope to add to their one league win this term.

That will be a challenge with what Ingram has described as a "threadbare" squad, though he says he and assistant Ryan Blott have been working hard to bring in a couple of bodies ahead of the clash.

As well as those with injuries, Joel Dixon is suspended, having picked up five bookings, while Lewis Rathbone has returned to Bradford Park Avenue.

However, in Flynn McNaughton and Jackson Jowett, Ingram sees two good players for the future coming into their own - but, most importantly, Pickering need to keep their heads up.

"Injuries are part and parcel of football so we won't feel sorry for ourselves," Ingram said. "We've got to get on with it.

"Results won't change if we don't change them for ourselves, if we feel sorry for ourselves and go around with our heads down.

"People have to stick together, from management to players - the whole club. We're a very close-knit club, people muck in here, there and everywhere, and that's the way we're to get out of the situation we're in.

"We can't go behind players' backs saying this and that. I'm a firm believer in having a close-knit dressing room, and that's the management as well.

"We (Ingram and Blott) include the more experienced players in decision-making and getting their ideas.

"Budget-wise and location-wise, that's what we've got to work with and the way we'll do that is by sticking together and staying positive.

"We're going into Saturday with a positive mentality to make sure we get the right result."

The defeat at Pontefract was Pickering's eighth of the season. Striker Danny Earl gave the Pikes a fifth-minute lead against their high-flying West Yorkshire hosts - though this lasted just two minutes before Gavin Rothery netted the equaliser.

The Colls took the lead in the 18th minute through Michael Dunn. Former Tadcaster Albion marksman Joe Lumsden extended their lead eight minutes into the second half and Vaughan Redford sealed the points in the dying stages.

It is a result Ingram was not best pleased with. On the performance, he simply said: "Not good enough.

"When I say that," he went on to qualify. "I can't fault the lads' effort, commitment and application but we're still conceding sloppy goals.

"I've got every right to question things being a defender myself.

"As a collective - a back four, the two lads in front, the goalkeeper - we've got to be stronger and more ruthless to keep the ball out of the net in clearances and decision-making.

"We look a threat going forward and we score goals pretty much every game, but if we can't keep them out at the other end, we're never going to win a game of football.

"We've got to grind out the clean sheet and the result to kick-start ourselves and to move forward."

As Ingram suggested, it has been a month since Pickering failed to score in a league game. That goal was Earl's his sixth of the season, while up-and-coming forward McNaughton - a summer acquisition from Scarborough Athletic - is now among the goals too, with three in his last five games.

"He's coming good," said Ingram of the 19-year-old. "He's improving every game. He's another good kid come in from a league higher who didn't play as much as he wanted to.

"He's taken time to adapt to playing 90 minutes but I believe he's going to be a real threat for us.

"It's the same for Jackson Jowett. He took time to find his feet and get over a niggly injury but he's played the last two games and come through unscathed.

"I believe he's going to be a really big player for us. He's comfortable on the ball, he has an eye for a pass and he's intelligent, he knows what's around him and can break lines.

Sam Cable has come in on loan from Frickley Athletic.