“THAT was a massive win.”

So declared head coach James Ford after 12-man York City Knights pulled victory from the jaws of defeat to beat Dewsbury 24-21 and stay firmly in the Championship's play-off race.

The Knights had two players sin-binned in the first half but turned a 14-0 deficit into a 20-14 lead early in the second. However, Ronan Dixon was then sent off with 33 minutes to play and the Rams eked 21-20 ahead with seven left.

Nevertheless, York full-back Matty Marsh scored the winner with 100 seconds remaining to lift the roof off Bootham Crescent’s Main Stand.

Asked if it felt like a big win in the context of the season, Ford said: “It was a massive win.

“There are eight games left and we’re joint-second. Granted we’re behind on points-difference but if at the start of the season you’d offered joint-second with eight games left, I would've snapped your hand off."

Of the match as a whole, Ford said: “I’ve never coached in a game like that before. Nothing went to plan. We lost players to injury, got players sin-binned and had one sent off, and we made errors early in the tackle count. It was a really bizarre game.

“We’ve not been in that situation before and we will learn from it. But ultimately the team were strong enough mentally to deal with it and find a way to win.”

Asked if he thought defeat was afoot after Paul Sykes put Dewsbury ahead with a late drop goal, Ford said: “I thought we had time to create an opportunity.

“There were seven minutes left so we were going to get three or four sets. We needed to be smart enough to get an opportunity and we did that – eventually.

“We’d not got it right a couple of times but when you’ve got players like Matty Marsh, Liam Harris and Kriss Brining, you’ve got individuals who can come up with something out of nothing.

“I’m really pleased they had the ability to do that and the confidence to do it as well.”

The Knights, having been off the pace early on, trailed 14-0 by the quarter mark but levelled the scores on half-time and went 20-14 up early in the second period with a Liam Harris try set up brilliantly by Will Oakes.

Dixon’s red card three minutes later changed the game again.

Said Ford: “We started sloppily. They had 10 sets and completed nine or 10 of them, whereas we had the ball four times.

“That all sapped our energy and we compounded it with the sin-binnings.

“But we came through adversity. There was about a 20-minute period which we won 20-0 - I believed we were in control at 20-14 up - but we then had a bloke sent off and that tipped things in their favour.

“We came up with some dumb plays in the last half-hour as well – we will talk about the context of ramifications of those (in training). We gave Dewsbury opportunities to win the game.

“But we saw last year when we won so many games by two points that we can find a way to win.”

Ford notably gave his players an impromptu team talk on the touchline after their first try had cut the deficit to 14-6.

He said it was about the team’s “mentality”, explaining: “It was not good enough for the first quarter and our contacts were soft which makes defending harder. We’d also had a couple of yellow cards and Dewsbury were also playing well.

“We could feel sorry for ourselves or we could pull our fingers out, front up and get back to our standards. The boys took that second option.”

Asked about the three cards, Ford said: “I thought the officials were incredibly poor, probably the worst I’ve seen this season.

“The ruck speed was poor, they missed things, they missed forward passes. Liam Harris got knocked over in back play three times – how they haven’t seen that I don’t know. It was the same offender (Michael Knowles) each time.

“Ronan’s red card was harsh. He copped him high up on the collarbone onto the neck. It’s a penalty. But if he’s going to send him off, he has to send Paul Sykes off as well when his high tackle knocked Harry Carter off his feet.

“There are three blokes (referee and two touch judges) in the ground and not one of them has seen it. It was appalling. He’s been really poor.”

Ford added of the loud backing from the fans: “They got right behind us. If they had been on our subs’ bench I would have put them on because of the passion and endeavour they showed.”

York still received a big blow as talismanic half-back Connor Robinson exited injured with half an hour left.

Ford said: “We'll see how he responds. He’s durable – he doesn’t miss many games – so hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”