PICKERING Town have been promoted from the Northern Counties East League premier division thanks to Casey Stewart’s late winner at Hall Road Rangers.

The Pikes made their fans sweat in the quest to book their place in the Evo-Stik League north – and not just in Saturday’s 2-1 win on the final day of their season.

In this past week, Pickering have played three games from which they needed a minimum of five points to leapfrog the league’s long-time leaders AFC Mansfield into second on goal difference.

Pickering endured a goalless stalemate at Staveley Miners Welfare last Tuesday before salvaging a 1-1 draw at Barton Town on Thursday, meaning all three points were required from this trip to Hull.

Joe Danby struck 11 minutes after the restart to put the Pikes in pole position with a low drilled effort, but the lead was cancelled out as Dane Mortimer nodded into the far corner with Charlie Andrew well beaten.

But Stewart was on hand to restore Pickering’s slight advantage with just nine minutes of normal time remaining, nodding in from close-range after Carl Stewart’s header across goal.

The Pikes next season have battles against North Yorkshire rivals Tadcaster Albion to look forward to, with the Brewers having suffered play-off disappointment at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday night.

Pickering manager Paul Marshall, who previously issued a warning to the Evo-Stik League saying his side would give it “a good crack”, has hailed his side’s achievements.

He said: “I’m very proud of our achievements. It will be the highest level Pickering has ever played. It’s been an amazing job to get the club so far in such a short space of time.

“It’s been a good effort with what we pay out – with a top-10 budget, we will finish second because we’ve got a good squad who enjoy each other’s company.

“It’s not just about the money, it’s also about the camaraderie.”