PICKERING Town boss Steve Roberts has insisted he and his side must remain optimistic as they battle against the drop from the Northern Premier League north/west division.

Former Pikes player Roberts took over from predecessor Denny Ingram with the side in a precarious position, and things have not ameliorated much despite a good win over Ossett United in January, early in Roberts’ tenure.

At the weekend, the Pikes suffered an agonising defeat at Widnes, with the hosts netting a last-minute winner after Pickering had battled back to level from two goals down.

Kingsley Williams put the hosts in control with a brace before Ryan Cooper pulled one back with 13 minutes to go.

Nathan Perks must have thought he had earned the travelling Pikes a point with his 87th-minute equaliser but Jamie Rainford popped up with the late heart-break.

On Tuesday night, Perks scored again as Pickering drew 1-1 at Mill Lane with second-from-bottom Kendal Town, who remain five points ahead of the Ryedale outfit.

But, despite their travails, Roberts is looking on the bright side.

“We’ve got to be optimistic,” he said. “We were down there when I took over. It’s a situation where you can’t be disappointed and upset every week.

“We’ve got to change that mindset and play with no fear.

“What have we got to lose? We roll our sleeves up and go to get points.

“I’m positive. We can’t be sulking and moaning being bottom.

“The pressure’s off in a sense.”

Tomorrow, Pickering make the trip over to 17th-placed City of Liverpool looking to improve on their current away record.

The Pikes have the worst points tally from games on the road of the whole division, having picked up a solitary point from 16 outings.

City of Liverpool have seven points and two goals to show for their last five games’ efforts. Most recently, they were downed 2-0 at Prescot Cables. Their last home game ended with a 1-0 triumph over Colne thanks to an own goal.

“We haven’t picked up many points away from home but we’ll go with a positive mindset,” Roberts commented. “We’ll take each game as it comes. It’s still in our hands.”

Danny Earl was unavailable for the game against Kendal but should be back for tomorrow. Ged Dalton, George Bissett, Brad Freer, Matty Turnbull and Soni Fergus are all on the treatment table.

Roberts has bolstered his squad with the acquisition of Doncaster Rovers Under-23s defender Rian McLean on a month’s loan.

He went straight into the starting line-up for the Kendal match, and Roberts believes he will be good cover for medium-term absentee Turnbull.

“I spoke to Rian the other night and he seems like a really good kid," he said.

“Hopefully he’ll give us a lift."

Fellow north/west division outfit Tadcaster Albion have also brought a Rovers player in on loan, with 19-year-old striker Rieves Boocock joining for a month's spell.

Play-off hopefuls Taddy welcome table-toppers Workington to the Global Stadium tomorrow for a 2pm kick-off.

Third-placed in Northern Counties East League premier division, Selby Town host Armthorpe Welfare tomorrow.