YORK City Knights haven’t won at Barrow since 2004 and haven’t beaten the Raiders anywhere for 10 years – and that sorry sequence now stands at 11 games after a 28-0 defeat in the Saturday evening rain and mud.

The omens were against James Ford’s troops ahead of this opening game of the League One campaign, and so were the odds, the young, rebuilding team being sizeable underdogs against a big-spending home side who reached the play-off final last term and who will be disappointed if they don’t go one better this year.

Frustratingly, the Knights’ performance in the 30 minutes after a half-time rollicking suggested they could potentially have pulled off a shock to end that hoodoo – they were the better team overall, albeit without creating enough openings and momentum to make inroads on the scoreboard.

However, to have had any chance of beating a side renowned for running and tackling hard, Ford’s men had to run just as hard, tackle just as hard, throughout the contest, especially on a Craven Park pitch made for a midfield battle.

Yet throughout a one-sided first half, Barrow basically overpowered them to effectively secure the spoils before the interval, dominating field position, creating whatever chances were to be had, and building a 20-0 lead which could easily have been more.

A few refereeing decisions didn’t help but Ford’s men didn’t help themselves either with unnecessary penalties and knock-ons adding to the pressure.

Two late second-half tries merely underlined the hosts’ superiority.

The Raiders quickly gained the first-half momentum, two fortunate decisions giving them an early platform and they should have scored with a two-man overlap.

It wasn’t the only chance they were to miss.

York, ironically, came up with the first little break of the match – Ed Smith from Danny Sowerby’s pass – but that was it from an attacking perspective until the end of a first period played almost entirely in their half.

A penalty initially relieved that little bout of pressure and Barrow went up the other end to force a dropout and open the scoring from the repeat set, Ford, sat in the Main Stand, calling for a forward pass as Danny Morrow stepped to the posts.

Lewis Charnock converted.

Barrow should have scored again when Nathan Mossop darted past slipping defenders but the try was ruled out, presumably for a fumble at the whitewash.

However, York immediately knocked on to hand the hosts another attacking set.

Left-winger Foggin-Johnston held up Shane Toal as the home winger looked sure to score. But the defence on the opposite flank was not so good, a long pass giving Luke Cresswell an easy finish.

Barrow, somehow quicker and more forceful through the mud, soon had a third try.

Charnock chipped and, in a melee of players under the sticks, Jarrad Stack scored, claims of a knock-on ignored.

Barrow had another great chance after Harry Tyson-Wilson conceded an unnecessary penalty on half-way, but the ball went to ground.

Still, York continued to struggle to get beyond half-way, and, after they were dubiously deemed to have knocked on 30 metres from their own line, the Raiders again dragged defenders in and Toal this time had plenty of space to cross out wide.

They had another try ruled out for offside before York finally had an attacking set – only for the half-time hooter to cut short any pressure.

Ford had had to make one change to his planned team with Hull KR loanee Kieran Moran coming in at prop for big Bobby Tyson-Wilson, who was struck down by illness. Would Tyson-Wilson’s size have been beneficial in the mud?

In one other change to the 17 that saw off Egremont in the Challenge Cup, Liam Thompson replaced the injured Chris Siddons, the ex-Coventry back-rower debuting off the bench.

Barrow had made a couple of changes to the 17 that swept aside Rochdale Mayfield in the cup.

Andy Litherland’s recall at centre allowed former Workington star Stack to switch to his usual second-row spot, while Dan Abram was back to interchange the hooking role with Mossop.

Whatever Ford said during the interval worked as the third quarter belonged to his side.

They had the first attacking set after Barrow full-back Ryan Fieldhouse dropped a bomb, but Foggin-Johnston was tackled into touch by the flag.

They again let Barrow off the hook with a penalty but they soon had their best period of the match, beginning when Sowerby, with a little shimmy amid broken play, was halted by a high tackle.

With Barrow being put on a team warning after a flurry of penalties, York had plenty of tackles in the red zone, but the defence was always well set, the Knights unable to play or move the ball quick enough.

They went closest after a Tyson-Wilson grubber was knocked on by a defender but the scrum-half likewise fumbled when trying to gather the loose ball.

When Barrow then forced an error, they celebrated like they had scored themselves.

With York nilled, the Raiders rubbed salt in wounds. They had a try ruled out for a forward pass after one of few second-half attacks, but Toal finished well by the flag after 72 minutes, albeit on the back of an apparent two-on-one ball steal, before Charnock wrapped things up two minutes from time.