Pickering boss wants to add more firepower

Pickering Town manager Steve Roberts

Pickering Town manager Steve Roberts wants to add more firepower to his ranks.

The Pikes are yet to score more than twice in any of their opening seven NPL Division One North West matches and Roberts has identified his attack as an area for improvement.

“I believe we are stronger as a group and more competitive (than last season), but I’m still realistic and we still need to add two or three,” Roberts told Non League Yorkshire.

“We’ve signed Jordan Deacey during lockdown and he’ll bring that bit of experience and knowhow as he’s played around the leagues. He should add what we need. Obviously we got Nathan Keightley just before (lockdown) so he’s played one game. 

“We haven’t scored more than two goals in a game and that’s something we need to improve on. That’s one of the reasons for bringing Nathan Keightley in. We were creating chances, but we weren’t finishing them. If we get to the stage where we do I can see us being on the right end of a good win rather than a tight game.

“It is the same with Jordan because he’s creative and he gets goals from midfield. Harry Jessop did really well so we’re looking to extend his loan spell when we do return. That’s down to the Scunthorpe manager. 

“But forward and attacking midfielders is what we’re looking for. We’re looking at that all the time and I’ve spoken to one or two during lockdown which has been difficult because as I’ve said before I like to go meet the players. I can’t do that now so it is all on the phone.

“We’ve got Jordan done (during lockdown) so we might get one or two more done before we come back (from lockdown).”

Every signing Roberts makes tends to be either a young talent or an experienced Non League name and the Pickering boss admits recruitment is getting less difficult.

Historically because of their geographical location, signing players can be hard for Pickering managers.

“It has got easier because you’re throwing names around like Wayne Brooksby, Leon Osbourne, Ben Clappison, Jack Johnson,” he said.

“It does help the conversation (with prospective new signings) because at least you’re naming players that they have heard of and seen in the Non League system. It makes it a lot easier.

“For us to move forward we need to attract players like them. They are travelling a bit more distance, but that’s what we have to do. We can’t work with a local group unfortunately.”

Brooksby, Clappison, Jackson, Osbourne and the rest of the squad have helped Pickering enjoy a fairly positive start to the season prior to the hiatus.

The Pikes are 15th after two wins and one draw from their opening nine games, but are three points from climbing to ninth so Roberts is content.

“I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping for a few more points,” he said.

“I still think realistically it is a tighter league than it was and we’re not in the situation we have been in for the last year or two when we have been looking up chasing everybody. I think when people get their games in hand played we’ll still be in that group where a win or two gets you into mid-table.

“I’m not entirely unhappy because I feel we have progressed. We have been a lot more competitive because there have been a lot of games where there has been one goal in it. 

“I’ve been disappointed with the goals conceded in the last few games because it is too many. I don’t blame the defence or ‘keeper for that because it is a team effort.

“I still believe we are stronger as a group and they are fully behind it. We spoke before lockdown that we didn’t want to go into it on the back of a defeat because you then have four weeks of positive mindset.

“Four weeks of no contact, no training after a defeat, there’s nothing worse is there? I’ve spoken to every player since the Ponte game and they’re all fully behind putting it right.”

The 3-2 defeat to Pontefract Collieries two days before the shutdown was perhaps the most disappointing moment – especially considering recent victories over Trafford in the FA Trophy and Brighouse Town in the league.

“We were very pleased with the wins where we showed great work ethic and then we had two tough games (at Marine in the league and Runcorn Linnets in the Trophy) and it was a little eye opener as to what we need to add to the group,” he said.

“The last game before lockdown was very disappointing. Ponte were down to ten men as well. In hindsight you look and there was a chance where we could have gone 3-1 up. We missed that chance, but I said fair play to Ponte because they’ve done well to hang in there with ten men.

“It was disappointing because three points from that game would have made it a totally different complexion for us. We would have gone into the top half and going into the lockdown quite happy.”

If you have enjoyed reading Non League Yorkshire over the past few months, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page. There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.

NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams. When we properly return to ‘action’, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.

We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.

We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.

You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.

Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.

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