DENNY INGRAM says Christmas is “a great time of year to be involved in football” - and is particularly looking forward to testing his resurgent Pickering Town against the division’s high-fliers.

Despite Saturday's 4-1 home defeat to Northern Premier League north/west division leaders Workington, Pickering look like a team on the upturn.

The Pikes have won three of their last five in all competitions, with the two league wins in two weeks more than they had mustered since the start of the season.

Pickering still sit bottom of the table but are just two points away from 17th-placed Widnes.

Boxing Day and New Year’s Day pit the Pikes against play-off contenders Marske United and Tadcaster Albion, respectively - and Ingram is keen to see what his side can do.

“It’s a great time of year to be involved in football,” Ingram said of the Christmas fixture period.

“There’s nothing worse than sitting around at home, twiddling your thumbs and watching Christmas movies.

“You want to be involved in football.

“It’s a tradition that you get bigger crowds as people bring their families to games, and they don’t come any bigger than Marske and Taddy.

“They’re two local teams with local pride, and they’re strong teams to test yourselves against.

“They’re the games you want to be involved in - you want to be playing the big games.

“With Workington on Saturday, it will be a big test, and one I’m sure we’ll relish.”

Jackson Jowett opened the scoring for Pickering against Workington after 14 minutes.

The lead did not last long, though, as Scott Allison scored the first of his hat-trick just four minutes later from the penalty spot.

A second Allison penalty 11 minutes from time turned the tables in favour of the visitors, who extended their lead in the 82nd minute, again through Allison.

Daniel Woodsworth completed the scoring in the dying stages.

The Pikes' next test is a trip to Marske United, who have come a long way since the sides met in January 2017 in the North Riding County FA Senior Cup quarter-finals. Pickering were 4-1 winners that day against a side who were to finish fifth in Northern League division one.

Now, the Seasiders are vying for a play-off spot in the north/west division, sitting fourth in the table following the weekend's 1-0 win at City of Liverpool.

Tadcaster are not far behind Marske in the standings, sitting fifth and matching their tally of 30 points from 15 games.

The Brewers fought back from a goal down at the weekend to beat hosts Trafford 2-1 thanks to quickfire goals from Alfie Beestin and Donald Chimalilo.

Pickering enjoyed a good pair of results last season against Taddy, who spent last season chasing a play-off place. Josh Greening’s 77th-minute finish gave the Pikes a 1-0 win at Ings Lane and they were only denied a league double over the Brewers by Aiden Savory’s late equaliser in Ryedale. Danny Earl had opened the scoring six minutes from time, but he has family commitments over the festive period.

Ingram has been both a player and assistant manager at Taddy, before following then boss Paul Marshall from Albion to Pickering.

Scarborough Athletic face an interesting Boxing Day clash against Morpeth Town at the Flamingo Land Stadium.

The Seadogs - who appointed former York City defender Darren Kelly as manager three weeks ago - are three places behind Morpeth in the premier division, but trail them by only one point.

Boro visit league leaders South Shields on New Year's Day.

Whitby Town are three points behind Scarborough in 14th place, but have six games in hand over their Yorkshire coast rivals. The Seasiders host Shields on Boxing Day and visit Morpeth on New Year's Day.