'Leigh were rattled': York Knights boss Andrew Henderson proud of part-timers after gutsy defeat
The Championship part-timers – shorn of a dozen players amid an injury crisis – had Super League high-flyers Leigh on the ropes at half-time following Kai O'Donnell's early red card for a spear tackle.
Henderson could not fault his team's performance in the 34-14 defeat at the LNER Community Stadium.
"I'm a very proud man," he said.
"I thought it was a wonderful effort from one to 17. It was a patched-up team, as it has been for most of this season for York Knights.
"We had a number of players playing out of position and lacked those pivotal players in certain positions. We had a lot of youth out there – both centres 19 years of age and both wingers 19 years of age.
"It's a real credit to that young side to battle the way they did and really give Leigh a fright.
"You could argue that Leigh getting reduced to 12 men early in the game helped us but you've still got a job to do.
"The last 20 minutes was always going to be tough for us and that full-time versus part-time was always going to raise its ugly head."
York are 12th in the Championship but could yet end the season with silverware after being handed an 1895 Cup semi-final date with Batley Bulldogs.
Henderson has told his team to bottle up Sunday's performance and use it as a springboard.
"I did feel Leigh were rattled," he added.
"Chris Chester and Derek Beaumont mentioned that to me at the end of the game. They were biting their nails and really worried at half-time thinking, 'Wow, this isn't going how we thought it would go'.
"I told the players to remember this feeling and the atmosphere and big-game experience.
"We've got the opportunity to have that in the 1895 Cup. That should give us enough motivation to get to Wembley and win it."