THERE was little for 10-man Pickering Town to cheer over the Easter weekend as their downward spiral continued with a 3-0 defeat at Handsworth in the NCEL Premier Division.

The Pikes were left firmly looking over their shoulder, with just four points separating them from last-placed Maltby Main ahead of their final three fixtures against champions Emley and play-off occupants Albion Sports and Rossington Main.

However, with Maltby suffering a 3-2 defeat at Tadcaster Albion in midweek, Pickering have been spared the drop, with the South Yorkshire club's relegation confirmed.

A red card to Paul Young did not help the Pikes' cause, as he was sent off following a fracas after Mitchell Dunne had been fouled.

Handsworth started well, and could have been out of sight by the quarter-hour.

Pickering were able to clear the ball away from Dunne as he looked to pull the trigger, before Middlesbrough loanee Felix Elliott was down well to deny captain Shaun Tutton.

However, the visitors showed signs of recovery from their poor start, Young firing straight at Thomas Crosby and Nathan Dyer striking the crossbar from range.

Omar Sanyang also tried his luck in front of goal, but after being put one-on-one with Crosby, he could only clear the bar.

Elliott smothered an effort from Fernando Tavares before the Pikes had a penalty appeal waved away after Crosby collided with Sanyang, but despite Kieran Stares turning the resultant corner home, it was chalked off for a foul by Connor Avison.

But it was Handsworth who managed to nudge themselves in front in first-half stoppage time, Dunne feeding Brandon Bagley, who turned before finishing to Elliott’s right.

The Ambers carried that momentum into the second half, Bagley doubling both his, and his side’s, tally after poking home Tuton’s cross - despite being surrounded by Pickering defenders.

He then turned provider for Handsworth’s third in the 54th minute, repaying Tuton, who eagerly smashed home to put the game out of sight.

Things went from bad to worse for Pickering minutes later, with Young dismissed following a fracas.

With Handsworth threatening to run riot, the Pikes were indebted to Elliott for not conceding further, the young ‘keeper pulling off a stunning double save to deny Bagley and Dunne.

The latter’s audacious effort from the halfway-line struck the post as the hosts looked to extend their advantage, but they could find no way through for the remainder.

Pickering will hope to see a turn in fortune when they host Albion Sports on Saturday (3pm).