JAMES FORD is hoping that history points to a strong recovery from York City Knights’ dramatic defeat to Featherstone Rovers.

In the dying stages of Sunday’s 16-12 loss, York half-back Riley Dean lined up a drop goal but Featherstone managed to charge down the kick and streak clear through Craig Hall to seal the two points.

For head coach Ford, the result brought back memories of his side’s 21-20 League One defeat at Whitehaven’s Recreation Ground in 2017.

The Knights were unable to take their chances at a one-pointer in that clash - but became a markedly different side in the following seasons, and have since developed a reputation for their ability to edge tight contests.

“I remember the Liam Harris, Ash Robson, Connor Robinson side where we lost to Whitehaven away in the play-offs. We probably had about seven drop goal attempts in that game,” recalled Ford.

“I’ve not seen anything as bad since in terms of the set-up, execution and decisions.

“It cost us promotion but those boys learned from that and improved. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, we won so many games by one and two points on the back of those three, because they’d learned from failure.

“We’ve not quite got it right and we’ll learn from it as a group. It’s not nice, but there’s a part of me that thinks we’ll learn a really good lesson from this and it’ll stand us in good stead come the end of the season.”

While the crescendo of the match was Hall’s winner on 77 minutes, Ford believes that the Rovers laid the platform to victory on the back of a strong start to the second half.

He explained: “Featherstone won the game, I believe, in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

“We lost the first play-the-ball and they rolled us and they got a repeat set.

“They did to us what we probably did to them in the first half. We defended incredibly well on our goal line but it has a knock-on effect and it drains your energy.”

Heading into this week’s trip to Widnes Vikings in round six of the Betfred Championship, York will be hopeful that forwards Danny Kirmond and Tim Spears will be at full fitness.

The pair were removed from the action due to a head knock and a calf issue, respectively.

“There’s not a lot you can do with a head knock as we’ve got to look after the players’ welfare,” said Ford of Kirmond.

“Spearsy tweaked his calf earlier in the season. We didn’t put him back on as a precaution, so we used one of the other forwards instead.

“It’s a blow, but we certainly didn’t lose the game because we picked up injuries, we lost the game because Featherstone were slightly better than us.”

Ford also provided further injury updates on Adam Cuthbertson, Kriss Brining and Brendan O’Hagan, who missed the clash against Featherstone.

He reported: “Cuthbo limped off against Dewsbury after he got a bang on his knee. We don’t think it’s serious, so we’ll see if he’s available.

“There’s a chance we’ll see Kriss Brining, Brendan (O’Hagan) and Cuthbo next week. Tyme Dow-Nikau isn’t far away too.”

Should Brining not feature, York may again play with just one hooker, Will Jubb, as they did against Featherstone.

“We started with Jubby as an interchange and started with an extra middle,” explained Ford.

“We went after their middle unit with some intensity and reverted back to our usual style when we brought Will on.

“I thought we needed to be more defensively robust than we have been in the last couple of weeks when we’ve made our interchanges.”