PICKERING Town manager Paul Marshall has hailed his “amazing” players ahead of their final game of the Northern Counties East League premier season tomorrow at Hall Road Rangers.

Before last night’s game at Barton Town, the Pikes needed at least a win and a draw from their last two games to secure promotion to the Evo-Stik League north – the highest level the club would have ever contested.

A defeat in either game would mean the promotion bid is finished and Pickering would remain in the league they have contested since its inception in 1982.

Town’s 0-0 draw on Tuesday at Staveley Miners Welfare means Pontefract Collieries have the title mathematically secured, but also that Marshall will have to wait a little while longer to achieve the 100-point haul he wanted.

However, it is still feasible for top-scorer Ryan Blott to hit the half-century of goals Marshall targeted him, which would be just reward for a member of the squad that has given such reliable service to their boss this campaign.

Marshall said: “We’ve been beaten by the best team in the league – fair play to Pontefract.

“They’ve had to beat (AFC) Mansfield, Maltby (Main) and Handsworth Parramore away from home in the last two weeks to win the league.

“I’d like to say well done to them, it’s thoroughly deserved. They’ve scored the most goals – we’ve scored the second most – and that’s what’s decided the league.

“They’ve just had a slightly better defensive record. We’ve drawn too many games.

“I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved.

“The players we have at Pickering have been amazing – they turn up week in, week out, come what may, and I’ve never had a player who cries off because it’s too far to travel.

“At this level of football, where they’ve worked all day and then have to play four games in eight days – I’m absolutely proud of them.

“I’ve been at other teams where players will throw one in, but the lads here I find amazing.

“If this team were to be promoted, we would give the Evo-Stik League a good crack. If I can keep them together they will do extremely well next season.

“I wouldn’t be frightened going into the Evo-Stik with the squad we have. We won’t be going just to stay up, we’ll be aiming for the play-offs.”

The club awards for the season have been handed out with Blott receiving Top Goalscorer and Players' Player of the Year while teenage keeper Charlie Andrew was named Manager’s Player of the Year.

Selby Town hosted Swallownest last night in their last game of the division one season.

Tadcaster Albion’s play-off campaign ended with 2-1 defeat at Bamber Bridge. Will Annan gave the Brewers the lead just after the hour but two goals in 13 minutes turned the game in the hosts' favour.

Harrogate Town contest their National League North play-off semi-final against Chorley on Sunday.