MIDFIELDER Tom Claisse is set to make his debut for Pickering Town against Thackley this weekend, writes Ian Appleyard.

The former Tadcaster Albion and Whitby Town player also serves in the Royal Air Force and is captain of both the RAF first team and UK Armed Forces team.

He had been playing for Northern Counties East League rivals Handsworth Parramore this season and worked previously under manager Paul Marshall at Tadcaster.

Now 29, Claisse has played for a number of non-league clubs including Bradford Park Avenue, Farsley Celtic, and Goole Town since being released by Bradford City as a teenager in 2006.

"With being in the RAF, my job almost dictates my commitment and it's very hard at the minute with me travelling down south where my base is for work," he said.

"Although I played every minute of every game for Handsworth, they asked me if I could commit more - which I couldn't - hence why clubs contacted me.

"In the end, I decided to help out Paul Marshall and Denny Ingram (Town's assistant manager) who are friends of mine instead of playing in the Evo Stik North or Prem.

"They know my situation and commitments," he added, "But I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to help Pickering gain promotion."

Claisse had registered with the Pikes on the eve of last weekend's trip to Worksop Town but that game was postponed on Saturday morning due to a frozen pitch and will now be played on Wednesday February 8, kick-off 7.45pm.

The game between leaders Cleethorpes Town and third placed Thackley was also postponed so there has been no change at the top of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League premier division during the last seven days.

The Pikes are still second in the table, with two games in hand, nine points behind leaders Cleethorpes.

Thackley, meanwhile, are one point behind the Pikes but have played three more games.

Striker Billy Logan has rejected the opportunity to leave Mill Lane and return to his former club Scarborough Athletic.

A seven day notice had been received from Scarborough but, according to the Pikes, Logan is 'enjoying' his football and wants to stay 'loyal' to the Pikes.

The news is another boost to the club's promotion push because Logan has scored nine goals in 12 appearances since his return to semi-professional football in November.

As reported last week, Nottinghamshire-based rivals Clipstone had submitted an application to resign from the NCEL.

They subsequently withdrew that resignation and returned to winning ways at the weekend against Parkgate.

If the resignation had gone ahead, it would have resulted in their results this season being expunged - but, significantly, would not have impacted on the title race as both Cleethorpes and the Pikes drew their one fixture against Clipstone earlier this season.

The Pikes host Thackley at Mill Lane on Saturday afternoon, kick off 3pm.

On Tuesday, they visit Bridlington Town in the fourth round of the League Cup, kick off 7.45pm, and will be seeking to complete a 'hat-trick' of victories at Queensgate this season after triumphs in both the league and the FA Vase.

Last Tuesday, the Pikes reached the semi-finals in the North Riding County FA Senior Cup after a 4-1 home victory against Marske United in front of a crowd of 118.

The Pikes led 2-0 at the interval thanks to goals by Andrew Ramsbottom's own goal after nine minutes and a Nick Thompson header on 30 minutes.

In the second half, the Pikes added two further goals through Joe Danby (61) and Ryan Blott (87).

United's consolation goal was scored by Nathan Muligan.

The other teams in the semi-final draw are Whitby Town, Middlesbrough U21/Reserves, and the winners of the quarterfinal between Richmond Town and Scarborough Athletic.

Pikes V Marske United: Wells, Bissett (Ingram HT), Tilsley, Danby, Cooper (Dalton 72), Taylor, Chipps, Robinson Thompson (Birch 67), Blott, Logan. Unused substitute: Marshall