HEAD coach James Ford has outlined key ingredients to York City Knights’ stunning successes over the past two seasons.

The Knights completed the double over former top-flight side Leigh Centurions on Sunday with a stirring 24-23 success at the Sports Village, a result which saw them leapfrog their hosts into third in the Betfred Championship table.

Only next weekend’s trip to Halifax remains before Ford’s underdogs head into the play-offs, when they will bid for an unlikely shot at Super League just 12 months after securing a startling third division crown.

Many pundits had predicted before this season that York would face a relegation scrap, with several onlookers, including Bradford Bulls’ experienced boss John Kear, suggesting their squad lacked strength in depth to sustain a top-half challenge.

But Ford reasoned: “I believe that if you’re incredibly hard-working and you’re constantly striving to be better and you’re together as a group, then you’re a half-decent side to start with.

“If you add a bit of ability and some clarity in plans and some decent systems, then you’re a good team.”

Ford also lauded the work done off the pitch for contributing to on-field success.

“The club has come on an incredible amount over the past 24 to 30 months,” he said, those dates coinciding with the takeover by chairman Jon Flatman.

“Jon and co have done a remarkable job off the field, taking small sustainable steps and helping the club grow, and the boys have done their bit on it.

“They’ve been fantastic. They’re great to work with, they’re hungry to be better and I’m really enjoying being their coach.”

The Knights are currently ranked the best part-time team in the northern hemisphere and the best British side outside Super League.

Furthermore, if they beat Halifax next week and second-placed Toulouse lose to Featherstone, they will finish the regular season second behind big-spending runaway leaders Toronto Wolfpack.

But he ruled out complacency. “We need to go their and perform really well,” he said. “Halifax are a good side and they’ve got some tremendous players, and they’ll want to finish the season on a high.

“They’ve probably not quite achieved what maybe everybody expected Halifax to achieve but they’ve lost some games by fine margins and won some as well, so I don’t think there will be a lot between the sides and we will need to go there and be very very good to give ourselves a chance.”