Worksop Town’s recent upturn in fortunes came to an unlucky end on a bitterly cold Wednesday night at Sandy Lane.
A powerful effort from Pickering’s wing back Ryan Cooper on 80 minutes was enough to deny the Tigers a point in an entertaining game.
Full back Kieran Fenton was named man of the match and bemoaned his sides lack of luck in front of goal, mainly from the officials.
Worksop were denied arguably two penalties in a ding-dong battle under the floodlights.
Fenton was downbeat in admitting his side deserved a point against a Pickering side who’ve now lost just once in their last 17 outings.
Despite a resolute display from Tigers they were left with nothing to show for it as the former Nottingham Forest left-back admitted that a clinical edge from the visitors proved the difference on the night.
A bright start by the home side saw winger Adam Scott cause havoc down the left. Time and time again the tricky winger was creating chances and drawing fouls.
But it was the away side that drew first blood, after play was halted and brought back for an earlier trip, Joe Danby curled the subsequent free-kick into the bottom left-hand corner from just outside the box.
Moments earlier Tigers had a chance cleared off the line after the lively Scott created a goalmouth scramble with a drilled cross at the other end.
Worksop continued to push on against their visitors with forwards Mitch Husbands and Kyle Jordan missing chances created by more great wing play by the impressive duo of Fenton and Scott before the first half fizzled out.
With stand-in manager Jon Kennedy playing in goal and assistant Craig Denton observing from the sidelines Tigers came out fighting in the second half.
The faultless Fenton saw a powerful free-kick tipped over the bar and from the resulting corner the referee spotted a handball by a Pickering defender. Captain Jordan tucked away the resulting penalty neatly into the right hand corner for 1-1.
The Worksop faithful were in good voice and the energy seemed to find its way on to the pitch as the players found some real swagger.
They enjoyed a spell of possession and came close to taking the lead when Scott saw his rasping effort fly over from distance.
On 65 minutes, Tigers should possibly have had their second penalty of the night. Jordan was tripped from behind when one-on-one had the crowd baying for the referee’s blood.
Worksop never really recovered from that spot of bad luck and Pickering went on to regain the lead three minutes later, a fast counter attack ending in Eddie Birch smashing the ball home after keeper Kennedy could only punch so far under pressure.
Worksop heads didn’t drop and they continued to push on for their second equaliser of the night. It came just seven minutes later, a mix-up in the Pickering defence saw the goalkeeper fumble a high cross and striker Husbands had the presence of mind to tap in the loose ball.
The game looked to be heading for a draw as Tigers’ defence mopped up the Pickering attacks. Fenton in particular excelled at left-back, showing composure in vital areas.
The visitors, playing a 3-5-2, pushed their wing backs on further and looked to bag yet another three points.
The Worksop midfield was getting stretched and pushed back further and further and a cross from the left resulted in the Pickering right-back smashing in a volley via a deflection from just inside the box, much to his and his team-mates delight.
This last blow seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side and they couldn’t find a third equaliser as the minutes ticked by.
Worksop though can be very proud of their display, playing a side in great form and challenging for top spot they were watched in front of a crowd just short of 300.
The fans support is clearly unwavering and this performance certainly gives plenty of optimism for the future.
TIGERS: 1. Jon Kennedy 2. Jordan Hooper 3. Kieron Fenton 4. Jack Waddle 5. Sam Weston 6. Steve Wankienicz 7. Leon Loftus 8. Danny Booth 9. Mitch Husbands 10. Kyle Jordan (c) 11. Adam Scott.
Subs: 12. Connor Johnson 14. Matty Parkin 15. Jack Hawkins >> on 85 mins 16. Jacob Richards 17. Ed Birch (GK).