HEAD coach James Ford reckons it is “only a matter of time” before York City Knights win at bogey team Barrow Raiders – with the next opportunity potentially coming in the play-offs.

York have not won at Craven Park since 2004, with this latest 26-19 reverse to Paul Crarey’s second-placed outfit making it 13 games without victory against the Raiders home or away.

But Ford was without eight first-teamers on this occasion and still reckoned they blew the chance of victory.

Moreover, with other results going their way, the League One table has changed little, with the Knights still fourth and in line for a play-off place – in which they will probably need to win at both Barrow and Cumbrian neighbours Whitehaven to steal the second promotion place behind champions-elect Toronto.

“This ‘bogey team’ thing is rubbish. It’s just a matter of time before we win up here,” said Ford of the apparent Barrow hoodoo.

“If we’re good enough to be in the semi-finals and final, we will have to come here again. Barrow will probably get second place. But we have certainly intimated we can come up here and win in the play-offs if need be.

“If we did some things a bit smarter in one or two areas, we could have gone home this time with the points.”

Ford said this defeat was an “opportunity missed” – even with a depleted team.

“We’ve lost by seven points after spilling the ball over the line twice, bombing a couple of other really good chances and gifting them opportunities,” he reasoned.

“Barrow are a good team but I think we conceded something like four penalties on play five – some were harsh in my opinion – and made uncharacteristic errors that gifted them some momentum.

“That said, I’m really pleased with the boys’ grit when Barrow were rolling us. The character, the belief to fight their way back into a game against the second best team in the league – apart from us – stands us in good stead.

“With four or five more minutes we might have got them.”

Asked about fielding what appeared to be a weakened team, Ford - whose side had lost 28-0 here on the opening day of the League One campaign - said: “We look to win every game. I picked the fittest team available to us.

“It was good enough to win so there are no excuses about that, but seven of the eight players out will be available for selection against Doncaster.

“We’ve come here with eight players missing and we’ve lost by seven points. That’s a real positive effort. It shows how far we’ve come and the improvements we’ve made since the start of the season - and there’s more in us.”

The Knights suffered a number of injuries in the middle unit during the game.

Ford said: “Barrow rolled us a bit around the middle - the likes of Joe Bullock, Oliver Wilkes and Martin Aspinwall are experienced quality players.

“We needed to be really gritty and physical around there.

“Ross Osborne picked up an (ankle) injury), Adam Robinson came off with a head knock, Ronan Dixon damaged a hand and Ryan Mallinder was back for only his second game for a long time.

“It was a real creditable effort by them.

“Will Jubb did 80 minutes at hooker as well. Things didn’t go his way a number of times, and he was harshly dealt with for a few penalties, but the effort that young boy has put in is outstanding.

The Raiders effectively won the game with 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to go from 7-6 down to 20-7 up.

Ford said: “Barrow got momentum around the ruck and we needed to better in contact and in our defensive processes, but a lot of that was because of penalties.

“Everyone had a real dig. The effort, the character and the solidarity we’ve spoken about was clearly evident.

“When Barrow get 20-7 in front with momentum, teams can fold here, but we didn’t and we were unlucky not to peg them back a bit further.

“I’m really happy with a number of things the boys did. One or two things could have been better but ultimately that kind of performance will stand them in good stead for the future.”