HEAD coach James Ford hoped York City Knights' stunning Easter Monday comeback win over Championship giants Widnes Vikings silenced the critics following the Good Friday loss at Featherstone.

He also outlined the "enormous" task his team are up against this season, on one of the lowest budgets in the league.

The Knights trailed 10-0 at Bootham Crescent but scored three tries, a drop goal and a penalty in the last 22 minutes to win 17-10 and stay fourth in the table.

Full-timers Widnes, relegated from Super League last season, had gone into the game with a record of seven wins from nine, and having beaten York in the Challenge Cup last weekend.

Ford said: “It’s probably a while since York have beaten a full-time team.

“Granted Widnes had some players missing – but so did we. They were backing up after Friday – but so were we.

“People need to understand the scale of the task we’re up against. That was enormous.

“If we had said we’d be fourth with a game in hand, with the half-way point of the season just around the corner, people would have thought we were crackers. But we are fourth.

“At some point we’re going to have a performance where we’re off again and get beaten. But it won’t be for a lack of effort. It will be a good team playing really well and us being a bit off. It will not be a lack of effort and to suggest that would be ridiculous.”

Ford referred to Friday’s match at Fev – only their third defeat in 10 league outings – saying: “I’ve watched that game back and it’s not nice to get beaten by 30 points. We’re aware expectations have been raised around this club because of our start. But we certainly weren’t as bad as what we initially thought.

“We were right in that game after 60 minutes, with a lot of key players missing, and I think people, supporters especially, need to understand the context we’re in.

“At the start of the season, if you look at resources invested in teams, you wouldn’t think for a second we’d be able to beat Widnes, beat Leigh, or go to Featherstone and win. But these boys give absolutely everything to every session, every game, and to criticise them unjustly, in my opinion, is massively out of order.

“Toulouse have beaten Toronto by 40, Toulouse have got beaten by 40, we put 40-odd on Halifax. It just happens.

“I know people get frustrated but realistically we aren’t going to turn up and win every week.

“On that occasion when we’re a little bit off, we are going to get beat, but it’s about a 27-game season.

“People need to understand – we’re the only Championship club who sign players from Hemel, from Coventry, and play them. They’re in our team every week, and they’re doing well, and they’re going to kick on and become good players as long as they keep working.

“But it will take time for them to be at this level every single week. I’m going to be patient with them and I hope the supporters will be too.”

He added of the Widnes win: “We were down to 17 (fit players) and, you know what, they’ve had a right dig and I’m really proud of them. I hope the families are and I hope the supporters are.”

York had trailed the Vikings to an early try in each half, with Ford bemoaning a slow tempo to the game in the first half – slamming the performance of referee Greg Dolan, despite the result.

Ford said: “It was two teams doing it tough, as everybody else has to over Easter.

“There were some errors in the first half but the game got flowing in the second and I thought it was a really good spectacle.

“He wasn’t good, Greg. He’s normally alright. His ruck management wasn’t good. He missed some knock-ons, high tackles, probably 10 forward passes, and obstruction. He pinged us in the first set on a line break (for obstruction) and didn’t get Widnes when there was no difference in the execution of the plays.

“Maybe he was fatigued as well. Maybe he had a game on Friday and it was tough for him backing up, but what he served up wasn’t acceptable."

He added: “It took all the tempo out of our attacking play, our set-up plays. There were seven, eight, nine-second rucks.

“But why wouldn’t there be? Why would Widnes let us play the ball in three or four seconds if the referee is letting them hold us down as long as that.

“Widnes are well within rights to play the game to the parameters the referee sets, and they did, and for 50-60 minutes they were the better side and we couldn’t generate any tempo."

Asked if he saw the turnaround coming, Ford said: “We’re a confident side, we’re a very together side, and we knew if we could get some momentum we would have a chance.

"It’s hard to break teams down when the tempo is wrestled out of the game. We knew if we got some tempo we’d get some opportunities.

“We reduced our error rate and got more energy because of that, got shaped up and moved the ball more as Widnes fatigued. We got some opportunities and we were good enough to take them.”