HEAD coach James Ford endured an unhappy return to Post Office Road as his York City Knights team lost 42-12 to his former club, Featherstone Rovers.

The Knights trailed 14-6 at half-time of their Good Friday evening clash, their sole touchdown coming from captain Tim Spears, the former Featherstone skipper.

But, playing up the infamous slope in the second half, they soon conceded four more tries and the game was over as a contest by the hour mark – York suffering only their third defeat of the Championship campaign, by far their heaviest too, and slipping to fourth in the table below Sheffield after the Eagles shocked Toulouse.

Indeed, this performance and outcome suggested they have hitherto been punching above their weight in this division following promotion from League One. It won’t get any easier either against Widnes on Easter Monday or in Toulouse next Saturday, and they will need to find big improvements quickly.

Their second-half try from Sam Scott, plus Connor Robinson’s second conversion, was mere consolation. It was far from a Good Friday for the Minster city club.

Featherstone’s surprise new signing from Bradford Bulls, Dane Chisholm, played a starring role at scrum-half, setting up several tries, scoring one and kicking seven goals.

If only the Knights’ could have afforded such a signing – especially now stand-off Ben Cockayne has been ruled out for eight weeks.

It was indeed a much-deserved victory for Rovers, who were the better side all over the pitch.

York’s contacts, by contrast, were off – Rovers regularly making extra metres – and their goal-line defence nowhere near its best. They only clicked in attack deep into the final quarter, by which time the game was gone.

It was far from a Good Friday for the Minster city club and they will need to find big improvements quickly ahead of their Easter Monday league rematch against Widnes at Bootham Crescent.

Ford had rung the changes as expected after a somewhat fringe side exited the Challenge Cup away to the Vikings last week.

Matty Marsh, Liam Salter, Robinson, Jack Teanby, Graeme Horne, Scott and Spears were all back.

Kriss Brining passed his late fitness test and was interchange hooker, while loanee Lewis Heckford stayed at stand-off, partnering fit-again Robinson in the halves. Heckford was very quiet.

Conversely, Chisholm enjoyed a sparkling Rovers debut at scrum-half. Perhaps surprisingly PNG star Watson Boas was left out, with Jack Bussey continuing at stand-off. He too had good moments behind a dominating pack.

Aussie winger Conor Carey also returned.

Chisholm was integral to the opening score on 11 minutes with a cut-out pass to the left, where Alex Sutcliffe fought off the tackle to touch down. Chisholm also nailed the goal from the touchline – his first of five from seven conversions. His overall display with both hand and particularly boot was integral to Rovers’ win.

The score followed Featherstone’s first penalty in an otherwise error-free opening by both teams.

The hosts’ second try was a cracker, slicing through York’s left-side defence from near half-way, Josh Walters taking the scoring pass on the inside.

York were rattled, as underlined when Robinson’s restart flew straight out. Fev gave York the ball back with a miscued penalty to touch but Jason Bass soon lost it back on half-way.

The Knights regathered themselves and got a foothold in the game. Brining, on his introduction, made a super solo incursion but there was no one in support.

However, Rovers eked up their lead to 14-0 on the half-hour mark with a Chisholm penalty following a high tackle on former Knight Brad Day by Heckford.

It prompted Ford to leave his seat in the stands and go to the touchline.

His team promptly gave away another penalty – a fifth on the trot.

However, when York finally won one – Spears being held down by big Jack Ormondroyd, the prop who helped the Knights win promotion last year with a good loan stint from Leeds – they got on the scoreboard.

It was Spears who scored it too, dummying and driving low into a hole from first receiver, Robinson converting.

York wasted their next opportunity to cut the deficit following a penalty won smartly by Robinson at dummy-half.

They kicked for touch rather than goal and forfeited possession under the sticks as Brining’s crash ball to Jordan Baldwinson was forward.

York duly had eight points to make up in the second half – going up the Post Office Road slope too. But the gap soon shot out.

Chisholm set up another converted try, his low kick bouncing up perfectly past the defender and into the arms of an onrushing Sutcliffe.

There was a distinct suggestion of offside but the try stood.

Then Perry Whiteley dropped a Chisholm kick on his own line – a bad mistake. It handed Rovers another set in the red zone and they duly crossed again, former Knight John Davies with a straightforward close-range finish.

They were handed another attacking scrum after York were harshly deemed to have knocked on in a challenge for another kick – and they scored again.

This time Chisholm floated out a long pass and winger Josh Hardcastle took his half-chance, when really he should have been halted.

Hardcastle sprinted in again on the hour-mark, Bass unable to bring him down, with Chisholm again involved in the build-up along with centre Sutcliffe.

York’s day was then summed up.

A terrible misunderstanding between Horne and Heckford saw the former’s misplaced pass go to ground in open space. Chisholm scooped it up one-handed at pace and celebrated to the fans as he sprinted to the sticks.

In a rare incursion by the Knights, Scott looked to break through after neat interplay but Robinson’s pass to him was called forward.

In their next, they fashioned a great chance but left-centre Salter chose to pass to Whiteley rather than go himself and the winger was unable to squeeze into the corner.

Finally they did score. Robinson broke away from his own half and sent second-row Scott sprinting home from 40 yards. Davies gave chase but pulled a hamstring and pulled up, giving Scott a free run.

However, it was too little too late.