BARRING an unexpected series of results, it was highly unlikely either Barrow Raiders or York City Knights were going to win this year's Coral Challenge Cup.

That does not lessen the disappointment of going out of rugby league's most prestigious knock-out competition, especially after losing 32-16 at home, but at least Barrow can take some encouragement into their return to Betfred Championship action.

Trailing 20-6 two minutes into the second half, the injury-hit Raiders rallied and had slashed the deficit to just four points by the 47th minute thanks to tries from Josh Johnson and the returning Tee Ritson.

There then followed a period of more than 20 minutes where it seemed as if it was a case of when, not if, the home side would get the try which got them back on level terms. But despite three repeat sets at one point, the closest they came was when Deon Cross was held up over the line.

And to make matters worse, York countered by going near-on 80 metres on Barrow for Josh Jordan-Roberts to finish in the 73rd minute, followed by influential stand-off Matthew Marsh scoring and converting his own try two minutes from time.

So the search for a first win since the opening day of the 2019 Championship season away to Batley Bulldogs goes on – and it does not get any easier for Barrow with Leigh Centurions up next this Sunday before a weekend off ahead of two games in four days over Easter.

Even so, there were plenty of encouraging signs which were appreciated by the home supporters.

Two quickfire tries for York after an even opening saw them seize the initiative though as repeated penalties allowed the visitors to gain territory, with Marcus Stock racing through a gap for a converted try and Perry Whiteley finishing out wide, followed by Marsh kicking a penalty.

Barrow punished the Knights for ill-discipline too and went over in the 25th minute, with Alec Susino powering in for his first try since rejoining and Jamie Dallimore converting.

A moment of confusion led to York going in 18-6 up at half time though, with the ball coming loose and Jack Teanby waltzing over to score with Barrow's players looking at referee Gareth Hewer thinking play had stopped.

But after Marsh had slotted over a second penalty, the Raiders responded to head coach Paul Crarey's half-time words to roar back into the cup tie as Johnson forced his way over to score against his old club and Ritson jinked through for a try on his return from injury.

It was to be late heartache though as York added some gloss to the final score, while the game ended on a sour note as Dan Toal was sent off following a fracas from which Marsh kicked another penalty.

Barrow Raiders: Luke Cresswell; Shane Toal, Deon Cross, Jake Spedding, Brett Carter; Jamie Dallimore, Lewis Charnock; Josh Johnson, Wartovo Puara Jr, Alec Susino, Willie Minoga, Danny Morrow, Dan Toal. Interchange: Nathan Mossop, Glenn Riley, Tom Walker, Tee Ritson.

York City Knights: Kevin Brown; Judah Mazive, Brad Hey, Perry Whiteley, Conor McGrath; Matthew Marsh William Jubb; Jack Blagbrough, Kristian Brining, Marcus Stock, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Michael Kelly, Tim Spears. Interchange: Jack Teanby, David Petersen, Joseph Porter, Sam Scott.

Referee: Gareth Hewer.

Sent off: Barrow Raiders – Dan Toal (fighting, 80).

Attendance: 898.

Playback: 12 – Stock try, Marsh conv (0-6); 14 – Whiteley try (0-10); 17 – Marsh pen; 25 – Susino try, Dallimore conv (6-12); 29 – Teanby try, Marsh conv (6-18); 42 – Marsh pen (6-20); 45 – Johnson try (10-20); 47 – Ritson try, Dallimore conv (16-20); 73 – Jordan-Roberts try (16-24); 78 – Marsh try and conv (16-30); 80 – Marsh pen (16-32).

Raiders star man: Alec Susino.