“WE are going to find our form and we are going to finish this season with some positivity.”

So proclaimed head coach James Ford whose York City Knights side are seeking a turnaround of their Betfred Championship season to confirm a place in the play-offs.

York were beaten 30-22 at Featherstone Rovers on Sunday to extend their losing run to four straight matches, a sequence which has seen them drop from third to sixth.

The Knights were much-improved from the defeats to Barrow Raiders, Halifax Panthers and Batley Bulldogs against Featherstone though, pushing the big-spending Rovers all the way at the Millennium Stadium.

While the fall down the table appears dramatic, a sizeable six-point gap remains in place between York, holding the last play-off spot, and seventh-placed Widnes Vikings.

Combined with that, Ford’s side’s final seven matches include six fixtures against sides below them in the table, none of whom they have lost to so far in the Championship.

“I don’t think we’re (now) in form, but, against Featherstone, I saw a team that were prepared to fight its way back into form,” reflected the York boss.

“We defended much better and we scored a couple of nice tries. You could piece together a short video where we looked pretty good. But you could also piece together a short video where we didn’t.

“We’re a very together group and we focus on us and what we believe in. We are going to find our form and we are going to finish this season with some positivity.

“We’ve got to stick together, work hard at our games individually and collectively and I know that there’s really positive form just around the corner.”

York will be aiming to end their losing run at Headingley on Sunday (6.15pm) when they take on 10th-placed Newcastle Thunder at the Summer Bash.

Having beaten Newcastle twice already this season, in the league and Betfred Challenge Cup, the Knights will enter as favourites.

Their chances of victory will be boosted by the expected returns of captain Chris Clarkson and first-choice full-back Matty Marsh, who were both unavailable against Featherstone.

“Clarky is back this week,” Ford confirmed, “and I’m crossing my fingers that Marshy is going to be back this week. They’re going to bolster the team.

The coach added: “Masi (Matongo) probably won’t be available as he dislocated his shoulder. We just need a bit more intel from York Hospital on him.

“Bailey Antrobus is a shout but because he’s such an athlete and so explosive, we want to get it right around his (grade one) hamstring (injury) because we don’t want to turn it into a season-ender.”

Should Marsh return, he would replace Joe Brown who came in for teenager Myles Harrison at full-back at the Millennium Stadium.

“That certainly wasn’t a dig at Myles,” Ford insisted. “We think the world of him and we think he’s going to be a good player.

“We’re going to keep working on two or three areas of his game and I’m sure we’ll see those improvements.”

Speaking about fellow teens AJ Towse, Levi Edwards and Brad Ward, Ford continued: “Elements of their game are Championship-ready at 18, which is a fantastic achievement.

“But there’s one or two pieces that we need to work with. We can’t speed up their maturation or age though, and I wouldn’t want, so as they continue to grow and develop, they’ll turn into quality players.”