YORK City swept into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1986 after a night of unbridled ecstasy at Bootham Crescent.

Some 6,638 fans, City's biggest home gate for a competitive fixture in more than three years, saw City overcome First Division Grimsby Town 1-0.

The morale-boosting victory lifted the gloom hanging over the club amid the uncertainty surrounding its future.

It also handed City a lucrative money-spinning clash with Premiership moneybags Fulham to look forward to in round four, to be played at Bootham Crescent a week on Saturday.

Delighted Terry Dolan is hopeful last night's result will spark brighter times both on and off the park at Bootham Crescent and may lead to any potential new owners firming up their interest in the club.

Several potential buyers were at last night's game.

Dolan said: "We have beaten a team two divisions above us yet with Carlisle winning at Hull we are now second from bottom in the Third Division.

"But the way we performed has got to give everybody confidence for the future and if we can keep performing like that things can only get better rather than worse.

"The future of the club is out of our hands to a certain degree. But if there is somebody out there interested in buying the club I hope he was there watching.

"I thought it was a fantastic performance and the only slight disappointment was that it finished only 1-0."

Dolan admitted he was left gob-smacked by the turn-out at Bootham Crescent, and the volume and atmosphere generated by the home faithful.

"When I heard that the official figure was 6,600 I was absolutely staggered," said the City chief.

"That just shows you that people care about this football club.

"They had something to cheer about because they saw some exciting football.

"We have said all along if the players can perform like that the supporters will get behind them.

"When they turn out in numbers like that then it is bound to lift the players.

"We have two league games to play before the Fulham game now and I just hope there is enough time to sell all the tickets.

"It is something to look forward to and I think the way everyone has rallied around everybody deserves it.

"We have played Colchester twice, Reading and now Grimsby twice so we have not got to this stage by a fluke."

Grimsby player-boss Paul Groves accepted the best team won on the night and City were full value for their victory.

"I can't offer any excuses for that," he said.

"We know it wasn't good enough but credit to York. On the night they were better than us. Danny Coyne (Grimsby's goalkeeper) was the only player to emerge with any credit."

Dolan hailed City's football in the aftermath of taking the lead on 17 minutes, courtesy of an own-goal from Alan Neilson, as "absolutely fantastic".

He added: "Their goalkeeper, Coyne, has made two or three brilliant saves before saving his best until last when Lee Nogan has volleyed into the top corner. How he saved that I don't know.

"They didn't cause us too many problems at Blundell Park in the first game and as the game wore on we probably grew in confidence.

"I don't think Alan Fettis has had a save to make in the two games we have played Grimsby so give credit to our players because I thought they were absolutely tremendous."

Dolan though was at a loss to explain how City continue to save their best performances for the cup when facing opposition from higher divisions.

"Ask any manger in the lower regions of the Football League why their team perform better against higher opposition and I have yet to hear anyone come up with the answer," he said.

Updated: 11:26 Wednesday, January 16, 2002