TIM SPEARS is banking on the fans to get Bootham Crescent bouncing again as York City Knights’ startling season reaches a potential crescendo.

The Knights take on Spears’ former club, Featherstone Rovers, in a Sky-televised knockout play-off semi-final on Saturday (3pm), with the winners moving to within 80 minutes of the Betfred Championship Grand Final.

James Ford’s troops edged Rovers 22-18 in a thriller towards the end of the regular league season but the Flatcappers enjoyed handsome wins in the teams’ other two meetings this season, and, with the visitors expected to bring a bumper away following, skipper Spears is calling on the home support to out-shout them and prove the all-important 14th man again.

“We’re confident in our ability and we know if we get things right we’re difficult to beat, particularly at Bootham Crescent when the place is bouncing with those great fans behind us.

“We will still have to be at our best to get the job done next week – we know we’ll have to be at eight, nine or 10 out of 10.”

On the York fans, he added: “They’ve been fantastic haven’t they.

“Against Bradford there were 4,000, and 3,500 against Featherstone, and you don’t half get a lift when they get right behind you. The boys love it. It’s great to have that backing.”

Although they were tipped for a relegation battle at the start of the season following promotion from League One last year, the Knights have enjoyed a thrill-a-minute campaign and finished a remarkable third in the final standings – effectively being the best English club outside Super League and the best semi-pro team in the northern hemisphere.

That feat sent them into a qualifying quarter-final away to second-placed Toulouse on Saturday and, although an injury-hit line-up lost 44-6 on a baking hot afternoon in the south of France against an inspired home side, they now get a second bite of the cherry in their bid to bag an remarkable place in the top flight.

Rovers finished fifth but were in fine form on Sunday night to win their elimination play-off 34-18 at Leigh Centurions. Their historic form in the Championship and the aggregate score between the sides this season probably makes them favourites this weekend, notwithstanding York’s higher-placed finish.

But Spears - who led Fev to four Championship League Leaders’ Shields in his time as skipper at Post Office Road - said: “Because we did so well in the league, we’ve got another bite of the cherry in the play-offs.

“When it’s knock-out football, the intensity builds. There’s so much on the line – your season is on the line.

“As a player, these are the games you want to play in. You want to challenge yourself.

“They’re the best games to play in and the best games to watch and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The other tie this weekend sees Toulouse go to runaway league leaders Toronto Wolfpack. The victors go straight into the Grand Final on October 5 while the losers host the winners of the York v Featherstone game in the preliminary final.