BATTLING York City may have had to settle for a point on their first visit to Hull's Kingston Communications Stadium but could at least claim the moral victory over their biggest rivals.

It had been another long and difficult week for the fans, players and Minstermen boss Terry Dolan in particular.

If losing Alan Fettis wasn't bad enough, losing him to the Tigers made it all the more painful.

In one last extravagant throw of the play-off dice, Hull also snapped up Jamie Forrester just as City, in stark contrast, prepared for the departure of Michael Reddy back to Sunderland.

Taking a seat in Hull's maginificent new arena merely rubbed salt in already gaping wounds.

Sweeping football rivalries aside is always difficult and try as one might to feel happy for fellow fans it was impossible not to let the green-eyed monster take hold and smile through gritted teeth at Hull's luxury and good fortune.

But, as it is so often said, all good things come to he who waits and down-at-heel City maybe, but the circumstances merely conspired to make this the most satisying of stalemates.

Having lost Fettis, City's most accomplished player in recent seasons and so often the most telling last line of defence, how ironic that the Minstermen should record their first clean sheet in 11 attempts while he warmed the oppostion bench.

And, perhaps above all else, the performance from City merely underlined there are some things money can't buy.

Hull have a side packed with talented individuals but it doesn't always make for a happy blend.

City looked more unified, more cohesive and as a result were simply the better 'team'.

A 20-minute spell in the first-half aside, the Minstermen controlled the game and but for a bit more luck in front of goal could have celebrated all three points.

Their first opportunity came within a minute of the kick-off but, after seizing on John Anderson's slip, Reddy's first touch let him down and Paul Musselwhite was able to come and claim.

After that early scare the Tigers looked to find their stride and it took a brave block from City debutant Michael Ingham to deny Stuart Green from latching on to Stuart Elliott's lofted pass in behind the York defence.

Lee Bullock, Richard Cooper and Jon Parkin were all required to make telling interceptions or blocks for City as Hull pressed and put the Minstermen on the back foot.

However, having weathered the Tigers' early storm City slowly started to build up some forward momentum of their own.

In particular, Lee Nogan, playing in a more withdrawn role, and Graham Potter, given more licence to push forward, started to link up and instigate City's forward thrusts.

Just before the half-hour mark came a chance that underlined City's growing confidence and superiority.

Nogan nicked possession from Ian Ashbee in midfield and played a delightful ball to Potter who delivered a finely cushioned first-time pass into the path of Duffield.

It was the sort of opportunity the hitman craves but from just ten yards out and only Musselwhite to beat Duffield blasted the chance high and wide.

As half-time approached Potter squandered two more half-chances for City from acute angles before the visitors finally got the ball in the back of the Hull net.

Musselwhite came to claim Potter's inswinger through a crowd of players but couldn't hold the ball and Duffield was on hand to lift it into the net.

It was inevitable the referee would blow for a foul on the 'keeper, but it didn't mean to say it was the right decision.

Hull's problems were emphasised by the fact the Tigers felt it necessary to make a double substitution at the break.

The changes almost reaped dividends within five minutes of the restart only for Ingham to underline just why Dolan rates him so highly.

Elliott centred from the right and from point-blank range Forrester looked odds-on to score only for Ingham to fling himself forward and, quite literally, use his head to block the ball.

It was a lucky escape for City but thereafter as an attacking force Hull looked spent.

City's forward forays were perhaps not quite as prevalent as in the first half, but they again produced one golden chance after Nogan and Potter combined in midfield once more.

Nogan's final through ball released Reddy but despite poking his effort past Musselwhite he also jabbed it agonisingly inches wide of the upright.

The boos from the home fans merely emphasised the Tigers' discomfort and it wasn't long before the Hull players started arguing among themselves.

City, in contrast, seemed to revel in Hull's problems and while they remained functional rather than inspirational they kept the ball well and never looked in any danger.

Peter Taylor may have lured Fettis but the one thing he really needs - spirit, endeavour, character and honesty - City have by the bucketload. On an afternoon about the haves and the haves-not, the Minstermen had what mattered. Maybe it is Taylor and Hull who should be casting envious glances.

Hull City: Musselwhite, Regan, Anderson (Whittle 46), Joseph, Holt (Melton 46), Green, Ashbee, Delaney, Williams (Webb 77), Forrester, Elliott. Subs, not used: Fettis, Jevons. Goals: None. Bookings: Joseph 90m (dissent). Sent-off: None.

York City: City: Ingham 8, Brass 7, Parkin 7, Jones 7, Cowan 7, Cooper 7, Potter 8, Bullock 7, Duffield 7 (Yalcin 63), Nogan 8, Reddy 7. Subs, not used: Collinson, Wood, Fox, Wise. Goals: None. Bookings: Cooper 57, Cowan 84 (fouls), Reddy 88 (usc). Sent-off: None.

REFEREE: Grant Hegley (Bishops Stortford)

Attendance: 18,437

Man of the match: Lee Nogan. Playing in a more withdrawn role behind the front two, was at the hub of all City's best moments.

Updated: 10:10 Monday, January 27, 2003