YORK City Knights were given a first-half scare by minnows Coventry Bears but a half-time rollicking put a stop to sloppiness and James Ford’s men duly stayed joint-top of Betfred League One thanks to a 58-18 victory at Butts Park Arena.

Coventry have only one win this term and were hammered 98-6 at Keighley last week, and Ford’s warning they were a much better team than that looked like paper talk as York breezed 18-0 up inside 12 minutes.

But the Knights were given another lesson in complacency as they allowed the Bears to draw level with three quick-fire tries of their own, leaving a few hearts fluttering among the travelling faithful.

A fortunate touchdown put York back ahead at the interval, though, and, following some hairdryer treatment in the break, they were a much harder, much more professional team on the resumption as they reached 10 tries for the day without further reply.

Ford had made five changes in personnel to the 17 that had held on for victory at Hunslet last week having similarly let a commanding lead slip.

In came Ash Robson on the wing, Liam Jackson at half-back, second-row Mike Kelly, prop Dan Hawksworth, and interchange hooker Dan Maskill for his debut after arriving on loan from Featherstone.

They replaced winger Tommy Saxton, dual-reg full-back Will Dagger, centre Jake Butler-Fleming, prop Graeme Horne and veteran hooker Andy Ellis. JBF, Horne and Ellis were all resting minor knocks.

The general, Ellis, was effectively York’s saviour in the second period at Hunslet. His importance to the team was highlighted even more here by his absence during a wayward second quarter. Maskill nevertheless was solid enough.

The changes saw Ben Cockayne switch from stand-off to full-back and former Coventry favourite Joe Batchelor from second-row to centre – the latter scoring twice against his former club to go to double figures for the season.

The Bears had begun life as a student team with none other than Knights chairman Jon Flatman among their alumni – described as a useful half-back in his day by managing director Alan Robinson.

Following that theme, they featured several student internationals in their 17 – seven had represented England just four days before their game at Keighley, hence some fatigue, while Ireland’s Peter Ryan made his debut at prop.

One of that seven was Lewis Lord, the former York Acorn ARLC hooker who has been at Loughborough University just up the road.

Otherwise the club have made a point of not signing players based in the North – a laudable expansion ethos.

York went ahead after two minutes six seconds.

They had won a repeat set after Connor Robinson’s tidy kick bounced annoyingly for Bears full-back Jason Bass. Following the scrum, prop Adam Robinson proved too big for home scrum-half Ben Stead from close range.

Connor Robinson continued his excellent goal-scoring ratio this term, adding his first of nine conversions.

The hosts nearly responded immediately. Winger Jamahl Hunte outjumped Robson under a kick to the corner but Robson did just enough to force him to bounce the ball down.

Hunte – the nephew of the great Henderson Gill - quickly saved a try at the other end as he tackled Kelly following a break by Cockayne, but York soon doubled their lead as Will Jubb dummied in from acting-half.

Then Bass was unable to take a horrible high kick from Connor Robinson and, from the fumble, Adam Robinson fed skipper Tim Spears and it was 18-0.

However, the Bears replied against the run of play – and shocked their cocksure visitors with three tries in 11 minutes.

Impressive York prop Chris Siddons made ground in centre-field after dummying through, and in his next touch threw an offload backwards. However, it went to ground, Adam Robinson and Cockayne left it for each other and Jacob Ogden swooped, Coventry’s on-loan London Broncos centre outpacing Cockayne to the line.

York should have scored again after a penalty but Connor Robinson chose the wrong option and sloppy handling ceded possession.

Instead, three penalties and a ricochet gave the hosts successive sets and hooker Richie Hughes burrowed in.

Stead then kicked a 40-20 – even though Cockayne was sure he’d kept the ball in play – and Ryan got through under the sticks far too easily.

Stead’s third conversion made it 18-18.

The Bears also thought they had gone ahead on 34 minutes as a bobbling ball ricocheted off Judah Mazive’s ankles and was touched down by Ogden, only the try was ruled out for offside.

After that let-off came another piece of fortune which saw York retake the lead.

Another good Robinson kick had Coventry back in their own red zone, where a poor pass from dummy-half was spilled by Bass, Hawksworth gobbling up the chance.

Whatever Ford said at half-time he said very quickly as he was back out in his seat long before the teams returned.

Run and tackle harder may have been the theme – with a few expletives thrown in – and they certainly lifted the aggression on the resumption, Hawksworth to the fore.

They were quickly rewarded when a fine flat pass from Jackson gave Ronan Dixon a simple close-range finish.

Then, after a penalty, Connor Robinson chipped to the left corner and Robson – who had been screaming for the ball - duly beat Hunte in the air and touched down.

A Jackson kick and good chase then trapped Bass in goal and, in the next set, the ball went right where Judah Mazive finished a half-chance superbly.

Robson was maybe fortunate to win a penalty from Hunte but it paid off as the next attacking set ended with Batchelor scorching through. He soon got his second as quick hands created a big overlap, again after a penalty.

Siddons had a try rightly disallowed for obstruction but York had been getting the bulk of the referee’s decisions and, on the back of consecutive free-kicks, they worked space on the left for Cockayne to see Hey round off the scoring.