PICKERING Town manager Paul Marshall is looking for a new striker after losing both Ben Hirst and Tony Hackworth.

Teenager Hirst joined the club this summer after his release by York City but has now decided to concentrate on a career outside of the game.

Player-coach Hackworth, meanwhile, snapped an Achilles heel in the friendly against Scarborough Athletic and is out for the season.

The Pikes start their league campaign tomorrow night (kick-off 7.45pm) against Worksop Town, three days later than originally planned, after playing Sunderland Ryhope CA in a hastily arranged FA Cup replay this week.

They had been scheduled to play Barton Town Old Boys in the opening game of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

But that fixture was moved to Tuesday September 20 because of the replay.

“It is going to be a tough game against Worksop,” said Marshall.

“They have finished in the top three for the last two seasons and have got to be regarded as one of the favourites this season too.”

Marshall confirmed that Hirst, impressive in pre-season, had been unable to commit fully to Pickering’s schedule.

“He wanted to focus on a contract carpet cleaning business that he has,” said Marshall.

“It’s an understandable decision because every player’s first priority needs to be family and paying the mortgage.

“But he has said that he will help out in an emergency if needed which is good to know.”

Although striker Callum Ward has returned from injury ahead of schedule, Marshall still wants more competition for summer signing Ryan Blott in attack.

“I may look for someone else,” Marshall said. “But as long as we keep Ryan fit, I know we will score goals. He is looking a class act.”

The Pikes needed a late Lewis Taylor penalty to avoid an FA Cup exit at Ryhope in last Saturday’s extra preliminary round tie.

Reduced to ten men following the first half dismissal of captain Niall Tilsey for a professional foul, Marshall’s men showed real character to come from two goals behind to snatch a 2-2 draw.

“Pickering teams in the past would have folded in those circumstances,” reflected Marshall.

“So I was really proud of the attitude and commitment on display. It showed me that we have a winning mentality.

“Losing to poor teams was a problem I wanted to address when I took this job. We needed to be more resilient if we wanted to finish higher in the league.”

On a night of high drama in midweek the Pikes then won the replay after a penalty shoot-out – with keeper Toby Wells pulling off four consecutive spot-kick saves.

Marshall’s men will play Washington in the FA Cup preliminary round on Saturday, August 20.