A HALFWAY-LINE penalty goal from James Glover saw York City Knights snatch an historic upset 26-24 victory away to Halifax Panthers.

After a Lachlan Walmsley hat-trick and Ben Kavanagh try, Halifax headed into the second half with a 22-12 lead and the wind in their sails.

The injury-hit York however rallied to keep the hosts try-less for the second 40 minutes and scored two tries themselves, through Liam Harris and Levi Edwards, to set up a dramatic finish.

Having only taken first-choice kicking duties this weekend, Glover stepped up to deliver an incredible match-winning play, sealing York’s first ever Betfred Championship play-off victory. Since reforming as the Knights in 2003, surely few wins match this one in terms of sporting achievement.

A daunting trip to Leigh Centurions in the semi-finals now awaits the Knights on Sunday (2pm), but for now, it feels far more important to reflect on the Knights’ incredible achievement.

To have come away to a side who finished three places above them in the table, and on a run of 19 wins from their last 22 matches, without eight players through injury and win in such a dogged and determined manner is testament to the work done by head coach James Ford and his players throughout this season.

This was a York side containing four teenagers too and showing three changes from the 74-12 thrashing of relegated Workington Town last time out.

Jamie Ellis, Levi Edwards and Bailey Antrobus all came back into the starting 13. Injured pair Brendan O’Hagan and Brad Ward dropped out, as did Marcus Stock.

York were evidently looking to mark an early on Halifax talisman Joe Keyes, a Championship player of the year nominee, but such pressure overspilt early on as Danny Kirmond was sin-binned for a late shot on the half-back after just three minutes.

The Knights rallied to at least take the lead, through a Glover penalty goal, but conceded twice without the former Wakefield Trinity captain and down to 12 men.

First, a Jordan Thompson forward pass from the kick restart gave the field position for Ben Kavanagh to hit a fine inside line from Keyes’ drop-off pass.

Then, Keyes dabbed a kick in-goal on the back of some Halifax go-forward and Walmsley grounded without a defender in sight.

The first of the conversions from Keyes was good, the former York loanee finishing with four goals from seven attempts.

Like the Knights had done earlier, the Panthers followed up with an error off the kick restart, Glover’s drilled effort beating a Halifax man into touch.

A couple of repeat sets later and Matty Marsh’s pass, which looked forward from the view offered in the press box, sent Joe Brown away down the right touchline.

Glover - who closed on five goals from seven attempts - was unable to convert from the touchline.

The visitors then moved back in front as a cross-field kick from the impressive Liam Harris saw Walmsley trapped in-goal.

From there, Fax favourite Walmsley dropped a grubber from Harris and Will Jubb was perfectly placed to gleefully touch down in acres of space.

Just as York seemed to have built a platform, disaster struck. Already without halves Brendan O’Hagan and Ata Hingano through injury, Jamie Ellis flew out of the line but ended with a shoulder problem that ruled him out of the rest of the contest, forcing back-rower Chris Clarkson into the playmaking role.

The loss of Ellis, combined with some York ill-discipline, saw Fax score twice before the break, with Walmsley completing his treble.

An inch-perfect kick to the corner by James Woodburn-Hall caught out an inside defensive run from Joe Brown and put the ex-Whitehaven man in.

And on the back of a six-again and repeat set, Jouffret fed Walmsley for his hat-trick, leaving Halifax 22-12 up at the break.

Anyone expecting that to signal the opening of the floodgates in the second half was sorely mistaken.

On the back of a stunning Tom Inman 40/20, Chris Clarkson ran across the face of the Fax line before laying the ball off for Harris to race over.

Harris remained in the thick of the action, his chip over the top almost grounded by Matty Marsh, although Woodburn-Hall was able to parry for a drop-out.

From there, Edwards proved too strong in the left corner, beating a couple of defenders from Clarkson’s cut-out pass. The missed Glover kick left the scores at 22-22.

Halifax thought they had gone back in front when Adam Tangata twisted over under the sticks following a dropped ball by Glover but the loose forwarding lost it at the grounding.

The Panthers did eventually move in front a couple of minutes later, Keyes scoring his side’s only points of the half from the kicking tee.

10 minutes later, York responded with a penalty goal of their own, Glover levelling the scores at 24-24 with 15 minutes left.

The late drama begin when Harris skewed a drop-goal attempt wide of the sticks before York were awarded a penalty on halfway.

Part-time kicker Glover stepped up and landed an unbelievable goal from 50 metres out, the ball sailing through the middle of the posts.

Halifax themselves had a late shot at goal, theirs coming from 40m out, although Keyes struck the woodwork and it bounced wide, ending Halifax’s play-off hopes for another season and giving York a famous win.

Halifax: Woodburn-Hall, Saltonstall, Worthington, McComb, Walmsley, Jouffret, Keyes, Calcott, Moore, Murray, Kavanagh, Barber, Tangata.

Subs (all used): Fairbank, Wood, Gee, Gwaze.

Tries: Kavanagh (9’), Walmsley (13’, 32’, 40’)

Goals: Keyes (4/6)

York: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Edwards, Towse, Harris, Ellis, Teanby, Jubb, Thompson, Kirmond, Antrobus, Clarkson.

Subs used: Michael, Porter, Inman. Subs not used: Barnard.

Tries: Brown (19’), Jubb (25’), Harris (45’), Edwards (52’)

Goals: Glover (5/7)

Sin-bins: Kirmond (3’)

York’s star man: Liam Harris. Kicked sensationally all night and stood up in the absence of Jamie Ellis, who went off after half an hour.

Referee: Jack Smith

Attendance: 1,850

Penalties/Six-agains: 4-6

Goal-line drop-outs forced: 0-3

Errors: 8-8