HEAD coach James Ford reckons the Bootham Crescent atmosphere could be the difference between victory and defeat for his York City Knights side against fellow high-fliers Toulouse Olympique.

The French outfit come to the Minster city tomorrow for a potential Betfred Championship humdinger (3pm), which pits the division’s surprise package against a club with Super League aspirations.

It will be the first time Ford has coached against Toulouse on home soil, with all four previous meetings during his time in charge being in the south of France, including - bizarrely - three in 2016 when York had to travel in the League One regular season, the Super 8s and the play-offs.

Olympique have won all four, but Ford - putting aside all speculation linking him to the vacant job at Hull KR in order to focus on the Knights - is hoping the noisy York faithful can shout on a reversal in fortunes this time.

“We’ve not played Toulouse in the UK yet,” he pointed out. “We’ve had some real good tussles with them over in France and we’re looking forward to playing them in York.

“I know that the supporters will get behind us and they could be the difference between us getting the two league points or not.”

This season’s meeting in Toulouse went to the wire before the hosts escaped with a 30-26 victory thanks to a late Anthony Marion winner.

Said Ford: “I thought our effort and performance in the vast majority of the game was excellent.

“We could have come away with the win and if we had I don’t think either team could have argued with that.

“Ultimately, though, we came up with a really poor start to the second half and one of the worst defensive sets I’ve seen in my time at York, a set with six errors in it, which led to their last try.

“We’ve learnt from that and we needed to. Against a side of Toulouse’s ability, you can’t switch off like we did for that one set. That was the difference.

“It hurt us as a group and we’re looking forward to getting in amongst it on Saturday.”

Asked if this game is likely to be another entertaining affair, Ford said: “Toulouse are a cracking side. They play a particular style which makes them easy on the eye.

“We’re not thinking about being overly entertaining. We’re thinking about trying to win the game. We will have our plan and things we believe in this weekend that are going to give us the best chance of winning.

“We will focus on them and if we can get the two points, that will be good enough for me this week.”

The Knights, promoted last season, have already turned over the likes of Widnes, Bradford, Halifax and Leigh this season.

Asked if those results bolstered confidence going into this one, Ford said: “We’re always confident. We’re aware of the calibre of Toulouse and of the size of the task at hand, but we’re not overawed by it. We’ve been looking forward to this fixture for a while.”