HEAD coach James Ford has said he would be “disappointed” if York City Knights players had their minds on Wembley instead of the task at hand.

The Knights sunk to a 37-12 defeat at Whitehaven on Sunday, continuing a dismal run of form that has seen four Betfred Championship defeats on the bounce.

York errors were again a prominent feature of the defeat at the Recreation Ground, where Whitehaven were worthy winners.

In less than three weeks’ time, the Knights will be swapping concrete terracing for the luxurious surroundings of Wembley Stadium as they take on Featherstone Rovers in the 1895 Cup final.

July 17 is a thrilling date for the diary for any Knights fan, and some have wondered whether the impending trip to London is in the backs of players’ minds too.

“I’d be disappointed if that were the case,” Ford said after the Haven defeat. “They’re playing for their shirts.

“To get an opportunity to play at Wembley, they’ve got to play a lot better than we have (at Whitehaven) on a consistent basis.”

York started their visit to Haven quickly, a well-placed Jamie Ellis kick off getting them immediate field position.

Their advances on the line were repelled, though, and Whitehaven pushed back strongly, eventually getting over the try-line just before the first quarter was up through James Newton after Tim Spears had been pulled up for a late shot on Nikau Williams.

Things quickly got worse for the Knights when Connor Holliday barrelled through the back line for a second just three minutes later.

It was all a bit grimly predictable when just four minutes on, loanee Tyla Hepi’s rushed offload to Danny Kirmond was poked on by Karl Dixon, who benefited from the bounce to scoop the ball up and go over.

Lachlan Walmsley extended Whitehaven’s lead from a breakaway just before half-time despite Knights winger Kieran Dixon coming across to cover.

The Knights came out a better side in the second 40 and got on the scoreboard through Jordan Baldwinson.

But mistakes again started creeping in and Andrew Bulman battered his way over the whitewash five minutes before Holliday stretched over.

Dixon got the Knights a late consolation.

York came into this season with play-off aspirations but currently sit ninth, looking back on four recent games in each of which they have conceded at least four tries.

Ford commented: “Teams in all sports have challenging periods like this.

"What we’ve got to do is stick together but also to be honest, have those conversations, find out what needs to change and work at changing it.

“I know I’m responsible for the team and I’ve been working really hard to improve what we’re serving up because the club and the supporters deserve better.”

New Zealander Hepi was among the interchanges for the second time in four days after having been in the 17-man squad for parent club Castleford Tigers in their defeat to Super League leaders Catalans Dragons on Thursday.

In doing so, the 28-year-old Auckland native showed his character but, despite a few powerful carries, he was not able to showcase his finest attributes in Cumbria.

“Tyla has got a good attitude,” Ford added.

“The conversation I had in the week with him was really positive.

“He wanted to come up here to work really hard for us to get this win.

“It certainly wasn’t Tyla’s best day.”

Jake Sweeting missed out with a back problem while Adam Cuthbertson went off with a knee injury early on.