JAMES FORD'S upstarts have made a mockery of odds plenty of times before - and they came so close to doing so again away to Toulouse Olympique.

Ford's injury-hit York City Knights, despite seeing Matty Marsh sin-binned, forged a 16-12 interval lead against the full-timers in the south of France and, in the second half, came back from 24-16 behind to lead 26-24 going into the last 10 minutes.

However, it wasn't to be as home hooker Anthony Marion punished a rare piece of questionable defending by getting the winner, at 30-26, six minutes from time.

York still thought they had won it when Matty Marsh got on the end of a Connor Robinson kick - but the try was ruled out.

The difference was two conversions.

The task facing Ford's troops had arguably been summed up by those bookmaker odds.

Despite sitting fourth in the Championship with seven wins from 10 - the latest being the stunning defeat of relegated Super League side Widnes last Monday - they were still rated 16-1 long shots to bag a result here.

They were given as much as a 30-point start on the handicap coupon.

Those odds probably took into consideration the Knights' injury problems, with Ash Robson, Harry Carter, Joe Porter and Ben Cockayne being joined in the treatment room by captain Tim Spears and former Super League star Graeme Horne. Loan stars Nick Rawsthorne and Joe Batchelor have also gone back to parent clubs Toronto and St Helens, respectively.

They also considered, of course, Toulouse's own form.

The Frenchmen stuttered at the start of term and were beaten by a buoyant Sheffield over Easter but they sit second and had won their last five home games, scoring 202 points in the process - including a startling 46-16 defeat of table-topping moneybags Toronto.

Nevertheless, it's probably time the bookmakers took notice of these upstarts.

Few teams in the Championship can live with Olympique at the best of times, never mind after a gruelling Easter schedule and a long journey overseas.

The fact the Knights so nearly beat them is further evidence this team are worthy of their place in the upper echelons of the second division. Calling them 16-1 shots against anyone is an insult.

Toulouse had a strong side out, whereas Ford again was forced into changes - fit-again Ronan Dixon and Perry Whiteley replacing Horne and Rawsthorne, and Dave Petersen switching to Spears' loose-forward berth.

Cain Southernwood made his debut on loan from Hunslet, forming another new-look half-back combination with star man Robinson as Ford seeks a solution to Cockayne's absence.

Sam Scott started on the bench, with Brad Hey taking his second-row berth.

York began well and took the lead following the game's first penalty.

Southernwood was involved with a cutout pass, full-back Marsh came into the line to create an overlap and in went winger Judah Mazive.

The joy was short-lived, though, as Robinson missed the conversion, Marsh erred under the restart, conceding a dropout, and Toulouse quickly went ahead.

Aussie second-row Rhys Curran was held up but Bastian Ader did score on the last tackle, Anthony Marion converting.

A penalty soon followed to give the hosts another attacking set. Marsh made amends for his error, though, as he beat the pacy Mark Kheirallah to an angled kick towards the posts from half-back Stanislas Robin.

Kheirallah, along with fellow Australia-born half-back Johnathon Ford, are too longstanding dangers for Toulouse, but when he overplayed, sending a loose pass into touch, York punished him.

Robinson took advantage of the big in-goal areas with a well-weighted kick - second-row Marcus Stock getting on the end of it and Robinson converting.

Joy was again short-lived, however, as Olympique loose-forward James Bell streaked upfield.

He was halted 20 metres out by Marsh but, with the defence away from home, the full-back prevented the quick play-the-ball and was sin-binned for a professional foul.

Cook Islands international Ford immediately made use of the extra man by sending Curran in down the left.

Amazingly, the 12 men retook the lead.

A penalty for holding down piggybacked them upfield and, at the end of a solid set, hooker Kriss Brining forced his way through a gap to score the kind of try from dummy-half that became his trademark prior to his 2016 switch to Salford. Hopefully more will follow.

Robinson curled in the goal for a 16-12 interval lead - Toulouse's frustrations beginning to show just before the hooter as Paul Marcon reacted unhappily to being shoved into touch.

Things changed immediately on the restart as Dean Parata broke a tackle, got into York territory and sent the supporting Kheirallah flying home.

For some reason, points-machine Kheirallah was not on kicking duties, with Tony Maurel taking over from the benched Marion and making it 18-16.

The hosts then went two scores ahead as Robin flew from the opposite side of the field onto Ford's clever reverse kick 40 metres out, Maurel goaling.

Knights boss Ford, in an effort to spark a revival, switched things like he had successfully done against Widnes on Monday - moving Marsh to stand-off and Jason Bass to full-back, with Southernwood, who has had just one training session with the team, being withdrawn.

They had one chance as Robinson's kick was just too long for Marsh, and another as Stock drove close.

They then forced a drop-out, then another, and the pressure told as Robinson fed Whiteley to squeeze into the corner.

Amazingly, it was soon level. Toulouse claimed a penalty for reefing but ref Marcus Griffiths deemed Kheiralla had fumbled 15 metres from his own line.

The platform set, Robinson set up another try with a pinpoint kick touched down by sub Scott.

The conversion put York 26-24 ahead with 13 minutes left.

Robinson had half a sight of a counter-attack try as he gathered a Ford kick with green in front of him, but the hosts got to him - and then struck the winner.

They got a fortunate scrum for a supposed knock-on behind a kick when the ball appeared to go backwards and, from it, Marion crossed and converted. Three defenders tried to hold him up rather than push him back, but he spun and was somehow allowed to find the grass.

Marsh was cruelly denied by the officials after that, and there was still a glimmer of hope in a helter skelter finale following a Robinson ball steal. But it wasn't to be. C'est la vie.