JAMES FORD expressed his pride at York City Knights’ performance in their 41-34 defeat against Featherstone Rovers in the 1895 Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

York rallied to square up a half-time deficit against the Betfred Championship leaders but Featherstone stormed clear afterwards to secure cup victory.

Many may have written off the Knights beforehand given their recent struggles but this performance was much improved, having gone toe-to-toe with a Rovers side yet to lose in the league this year.

“I’m really proud,” said head coach Ford. “I felt like the players dealt with the disruption of the week with a load of maturity and they dealt with the disruption of the back end of the week.

“I thought that they dealt with that tremendously well. Featherstone are a good side and, yes they had some disruption also, but they still had some first-class individuals out there who pose such a threat.

“At times, we unravelled a little bit but we fought tremendously hard.

“We gave ourselves the opportunity to win the game with two tries in the second half. We were disappointed that we couldn’t regather the kick off, I think that killed our momentum a little bit.

“Featherstone pulled away but we stuck together and, I’m not saying that we were going to win at the end, but if there were five more minutes if would have been a really interesting finale.”

Having got level at 22-22 after the break, Featherstone responded with three quick-fire tries to all but seal victory.

Asked where things fell away during that period, Ford said: “I think that it was a pretty consistent theme throughout the game.

“We probably came up with too many individual errors both in attack and defence - a loose carry, lapse of concentration under a kick or a missed tackle.

“We’re talking about good players here. I’m not attaching any blame to those individuals because they will be better for that experience.

“I think that it would be unfair to single anybody out but some of these players came from League One teams or bottom end Championship and that’s probably their first taste of a game of this magnitude and they’ll be better for it.

“Things haven’t quite gone to plan for us this year, we’ve had an awful lot of disruption off the field but those players, that team, the club, myself as part of the coaching team, will be better for being here and learning from a little bit of failure.”

Putting in such a competition showing at the country’s most prestigious stage, Ford hopes that the Knights can build on this for weeks to come.

He said: “One of the things that I was critical about following the London game was the effort being mixed across the team.

“Today I saw an abundance of effort, character and togetherness in fairly difficult conditions. It was difficult for me in the stand not doing anything because of how hot it was. The boys have gone above and beyond in their effort.

“We need to build on that. All good teams start around fight, toughness, togetherness and the stuff on top of that turns you from a good team into a great team."