JAMES FORD reckoned his York City Knights side had put “one foot in the play-offs” following their stunning 25-24 victory over Bradford Bulls at a bouncing Bootham Crescent.

A bumper crowd of 4,007 saw Liam Harris kick a drop-goal a minute-and-a-half from time to nick the spoils at the end of a ding-dong encounter against the former world club champions.

It was the fourth such thriller between these sides in the past two seasons, with York coming out on top in three of them - and with this latest victory keeping them second in the Betfred Championship with five games to go.

They face a tough run-in in order to secure a top-five place but now have a six-point cushion to Bradford in sixth place.

“We’ve got one foot in the play-offs - but only one foot,” Ford reasoned.

“There are some very tough games to come. We’ve given ourselves an opportunity but we have to make sure we hit our standards.”

Of the match, Ford declared: “It was a fantastic spectacle with two really good sides. There was a lot of endeavour on show and it could have gone either way. It was a cracking game and I’m delighted we’ve come out on the right side of it.

“Jordan Lilley has missed a drop goal by the narrowest of margins and we’ve got one at the other end (in off a post).

“There’s not a lot between the sides. They’re a very well-coached side, they’re defensively organised and they’ve got some fantastic individuals. We knew it was going to be close and that it would go down to the wire, and fortunately we’ve come out on the right side.”

That late winner saw dummy-half Will Jubb fire the ball back to Connor Robinson, who shaped to shoot before passing right to Harris, who had a little more time to line up his attempt.

Ford said: “We’ve had the presence of mind to come up with a well-organised play which has won us the game.

“I thought their half-backs shaded ours. Jordan Lilley and Joe Keyes were really, really good. But Connor and Liam have come up with that play themselves. Connor thinks about faking then goes to Liam Harris who puts the ball over.

“Fair play to those two to have the creativity, awareness and ability to come up with that.

“I’ve said before, if there’s someone who’s going to come up with something like that for us, it’s either Connor or Liam.”

Of these thrilling encounters between these two sides, Ford quipped: “We like to give our supporters, and the Bradford supporters, their money’s worth.

“It was an immense challenge. Both teams’ effort and endeavour were fantastic.”

Tensions were fraught at times, with Ford describing the first-half sin-binning of Ronan Dixon as “soft”. Meanwhile, a stoppage in play late on, as York tried to replace the injured Liam Salter with Kriss Brining, saw Ford have strong words on the sideline with Bradford’s interchange hooker, George Flanagan.

It is thought the argument stemmed from the fact the Knights had used up their interchanges but this substitution was due to a head injury and therefore permitted.

Of that altercation, Ford said: “It wasn’t a lot really. George is a competitor and he probably revels in getting a response. On that occasion I probably responded when I probably shouldn’t have done, but it’s forgotten now and I’m sure we’ve both moved on.”

Asked if he would have taken a draw once Bradford had fought back from 24-14 down to level the scores with six minutes left, Ford said: “A draw would have been a better result for us than Bradford as it would have still kept us four points in front of them.

“But, having got the win now, I’m going to say no. Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it.”

The Knights now have a blank weekend before going to Barrow on August 4. Asked if the break was coming at a good time, Ford quipped: “Yes, by the end of this week my heart-rate might have come back down to normal.”