MANAGER Steve Roberts is eager to get back on the pitch and try to put Pickering Town's final pre-lockdown result behind them.

On Tuesday, November 3, with another enforced break looming for the Northern Premier League north/west division, the Pikes twice let their lead slip in a 3-2 home defeat to Pontefract Collieries.

Leon Osborne and Jason Barnes scored either side of a Damian Reeves spot kick, before Nathan Modest's brace gave the Colls all three points at Mill Lane and put paid to Pickering's two-game league winning run.

The message before the visit of the 17th-placed Colls was to head into lockdown off the back of a good result. Now, Roberts wants his side to get back on track when they travel to Widnes this Saturday (December 5).

Roberts said: "We spoke about making sure of coming out on a positive note with three points at home and we've gone in with a bad defeat.

"We've had that to think about for four weeks without a training session. I've had that weigh on my mind.

"I'm chomping at the bit - I'm sure the players are - just to put that right.

"Normally you've got a chance to put it right two or three days later in the league, the way it works.

"I think everyone will be thinking about the result on that first game back.

"I can't wait to get going again now."

Pickering currently sit a place above Widnes in 15th but have played two games more. With seven points, the Pikes are in leapfrogging distance of ninth-placed but can also be caught by bottom side Ossett United.

And time at the wrong end of the division is exactly what Roberts wants to avoid.

"Our focus has been on getting away from the bottom of the table," he said.

"I believe we can be mid-table as part of a two- or three-year plan to get us to the right end of the table.

"Every game, for me, is as important as the game before.

"We've got to not accept defeat as easily as last season.

"There are signs we're getting there.

"During lockdown, we've missed training sessions after a defeat but we're fully focused on putting that right."

It was recently announced that Football League clubs will be allowed to use five substitutes, rather than three, for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.

With 'non-elite' football activity restarting again only today (Wednesday, December 2) after a month's break, Roberts would be behind a similar initiative were it proposed by the NPL.

"At the moment, it could benefit people," he said. "Missing four weeks, there's more chance of inj-uries, of tired legs, pulls and strains.

"If they said that, I would be behind it."

Something that does not change for non-elite football (Step 3 and down of the pyramid) when it returns is that supporters will still be allowed, in line with tiered guidance. As the Pikes' local region will classed as Tier 2 after lockdown ends, Mill Lane is set to still be allowed to welcome up to 400 spectators.

And Roberts has hailed the efforts people at the club have made to keep the environment secure and welcoming.

"The numbers we're getting are up on last season," Roberts said.

"We can distance really well and the club has worked hard to introduce measures.

"People have been working on a food hut outside serving hot food and coffee.

"There are lot of people working hard behind the scenes.

"We're good to go. We're all in place with the restrictions and guidance."

Looking further ahead, Pickering have plans to set up an academy, which is hoped to be in operation for September 2021, as well as to add youth teams to the Mill Lane set-up.

Hopes are high after Yorkshire Coast Academy - run by Mark Barber and Pikes assistant manager Tony Hackworth held a "well-attended" open evening at the end of October.

"It's going to be really good," Roberts enthused.

"Mark Barber and Tony Hackworth have worked really hard.

"It's going to benefit the club massively in the long-term.

"They will have 10 hours' training a week and we can keep an eye on players' development there.

"We're moving to an under-21s and under-23s team, which will benefit players not getting much game time.

"The future of the club is looking really bright."