PICKERING Town play their biggest game of the season this weekend when they visit leaders Cleethorpes Town in the Toolstation Northern Counties East League premier division, writes Ian Appleyard.

The Pikes can go top-of-the-table if they win at the Bradley Community Stadium but defeat will leave Cleethorpes five points clear with a game in hand.

Paul Marshall's side extended their unbeaten league run to 16 games last weekend with a 3-1 victory over Clipstone.

Cleethorpes, meanwhile, became the first NCEL side in five years to reach the last four of the FA Vase when beating Spartan South Midlands Football League side Southall.

They are now just one step away from a first ever trip to Wembley and have been drawn against Midland League division one club Bromsgrove Sporting in next month's two-legged semi-final.

Pikes manager Paul Marshall will be hoping the FA Vase proves a "distraction" for Cleethorpes who have led the race for promotion for the majority of the season.

They are unbeaten at home and have won 10 of their last 12 league games but, significantly, they lost to both the Pikes and third-placed Bridlington during that sequence.

However, Cleethorpes joint-assistant-manager Dave Smith says promotion is his club's priority.

"It's back to business and we have another big challenge to overcome with promotion our number one aim," he said. "It was a great day for the club (against Southall) and all credit goes to the players for taking another step towards making history for this club.

"Having the second leg of the semi-final at home is what we wanted - it was a good draw - but we now turn our attention to Saturday."

The Pikes reached the final of the North Riding County FA Senior Cup last Tuesday night with a memorable 1-0 victory over Scarborough Athletic.

The Pikes, who last won the competition in 2013 under Jimmy Reid, now play Whitby Town or Middlesbrough's U23s in the final which is likely to take place in April.

Victory looked to be slipping from their grasp when captain Niall Tilsley was sent off just 18 minutes into the game for a bad challenge on former team-mate Matty Turnbull.

But the Pikes showed far greater character than Scarborough and Nathan Kamara grabbed the winner in the 77th minute.

Kamara was also on target as the Pikes secured a 3-1 league victory at home to Clipstone.

The Pikes made a slow start to the game and both Ben Rogers and Brendan Williams went close for the visitors.

Kamara latched onto a superb ball from Joe Danby but was unable to beat the Clipstone goalkeeper.

A mistake by Danby allowed Gareth Curtis to give Clipstone the lead after 30 minutes.

Curtis dispossessed Danby before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Toby Wells with a low shot from 18 yards.

Defender Tilsley struck the Clipstone crossbar with a header as the Pikes set about restoring parity.

Kamara then switched play to winger Robert Chipps who hit a 20 yard shot just over the crossbar.

Both Nick Thompson and Kamara missed good chances for the Pikes as the interval approached.

The second half saw the visitors tiring and the Pikes coming more into the game.

Danby equalised in the 48th minute after latching onto a ball from Thompson.

On 65 minutes, a Lewis Taylor corner found Nick Thompson who put the Pikes ahead.

The game was settled when Clipstone's Luke Thomas fouled Ged Dalton in the penalty area allowing Lewis Taylor to convert from the spot.

The final 10 minutes saw Clipstone striker Hawley clean through on the Pikes goal but he was tackled superbly by Tilsley.

Dalton nearly stole the show after beating four players but his shot from 14 yards was just off target.

The visitors were reduced to ten men near the end when Lowe was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Pikes V Clipstone: Wells, Cooper, Danby, Chipps (Dalton 66), Bissett, Tilsley, Thompson (Chigumira 75), Birch, Kamara, Blott, Dale (Claisse 54). Substituted not used: Robinson, Ingram. Attendance:132.

Pikes V Scarborough: Wells, Cooper, Danby, Chipps, Bissett, Tilsley, Thompson, Birch, Blott (Kamara 45), Taylor, Dale (Robinson 31). Substitutes not used: Dalton, Chigamira. Attendance: 338.