CHAIRMAN Jon Flatman insists everyone at York City Knights is already planning to make 2018 an "even more successful season" after their 2017 campaign ended in heart-wrenching fashion.

James Ford's troops lost 21-20 away to Whitehaven in the Kingstone Press League One play-off semi-finals on Sunday - the epic match in the rain and mud comprising a world record 25 minutes of golden-point extra time before the teams could be divided.

Flatman hailed the players' skill and endeavour, plus the dignity they displayed after Haven's winning drop-goal was set up by a huge slice of fortune - the home team, correctly according to the rules, being awarded a scrum near the posts when an off-target attempt struck the referee.

And he says such values underscore the huge strides made by the club on and off the field since the crises of 12 months ago when, amid the threat of closure, only 12 players travelled for the corresponding semi-final against Toulouse prior to a mass exodus.

"First and foremost it was an absolutely brilliant encounter," said Flatman of Sunday's epic at The Recre.

"Whether you're a supporter of either team or a neutral, you could not help but admire the skill, effort and endeavour of those 34 blokes on the pitch.

"We've talked about our club values being integrity, competitiveness, vibrancy and partnership, and all of those values were demonstrated in abundance on that pitch by the players and the coaching staff."

The Knights had ultimately sought promotion come the back end of the campaign, but, after last year's strife and the fact the new-look club had to start from scratch after the December takeover fronted by Flatman, they had been outsiders to make the play-offs and maybe even the Super 8s.

In terming the season a "success" overall despite the play-off defeat, Flatman said: "I don't think we should go back to December but rather this time last year as a starting point.

"After everything that happened, the team got knocked out of the play-offs by Toulouse after travelling with only 12 players.

"In reviewing the season I think it's right to go back to then, to review where we started from to where we are now.

"In comparison we're now in a world-class training facility with fantastic staff, board of directors and players who are, I am sure, committed to making 2018 another step forward following on from a successful 2017 season."

Flatman, however, did not think it right to say the club had "over-achieved" this year.

"You end up where you end up," he explained. "I don't think the league table lies and the play-offs have demonstrated that.

"We beat the champions Toronto - the only team to do that - and we've come up one point short away from home in a play-off semi-final.

"To say we've 'over-achieved' would be unfair on the ability and effort in those players who have made the achievement happen through their hard work and skill and the quality of the coaching staff and environment we're working in.

"In terms of expectations, I can't speak for those outside of the club but ours were to be competitive and full of energy and to display dignity - to show all the club's values - and the players and coaching staff have done that.

"We review our finishing position on a regular basis and set targets accordingly as regards where we want to be."

Flatman, meanwhile, laughed at the question of whether the defeat had affected Ford's position as head coach.

"The club are committed to James Ford and James Ford is committed to the club," he said.

"We are all looking forward to making next year an even more successful season than the successful season just gone."