THE Royals they may be, but it was York City not Reading who were the kings of Bootham Crescent after another superb FA Cup showing from the Minstermen.

The City players and manager Terry Dolan have come in for no shortage of flak given recent displays.

Much of it has been understandable but even the staunchest of critics, the most steadfast of snipers, could not have begrudged bestowing praise on City after such a sterling performance.

Some will no doubt talk about the FA Cup weaving it's magic again. And certainly the omens, if not the form book, proffered for a cup upset prior to kick-off.

The two sides met at the same stage of the competition last year when both occupied similar positions in their respective tables.

Few City fans will need reminding that back then City upset the apple-cart to dethrone the Royals on their own manor in a memorable Cup replay.

However, this time around no second bite was necessary and to talk of fate playing its part in City's triumph just wouldn't do justice to the Minstermen's efforts.

Some could suggest too that Reading must have had an off-day.

But that Alan Pardew's side rarely resembled a side that up until last week was enjoying a seven-match winning streak in Division Two is further testament to City's steadfast refusal to bow down to their high-flying visitors.

"Magnificent" was how Dolan described it and, indeed, it is difficult to find fault with a fine team effort.

In particular, young defender Chris Smith produced a near-faultless display at the heart of the City backline against his former club while the recalled Mike Basham was equally impressive.

And up front, Michael Proctor was at his devilish, feverish best while Lee Bullock, pushed forward again in the absence of Lee Nogan, was outstanding.

Strong as ox, no pun intended, Bullock led the line superbly, holding the ball up with some deft first touches before bringing his team-mates into the action with some equally deft and intelligent lay-offs.

City were no doubt buoyed by a dream start brought about by a dream goal.

Graham Potter, another ex-Royal, delivered a perfectly weighted ball down the line for Proctor.

The on-loan Sunderland man skipped away down the left before pulling the ball back for Nick Richardson superbly with the outside of his foot and the veteran midfielder lashed the ball home form the edge of the area.

Galvanised by the goal, thereafter City were endeavour epitomised.

If they weren't always first to the ball they won the second and after snaffling possession were quick to spring forward roared on by a vociferous home crowd.

Reading, despite plenty of possession, rarely got a genuine sight of the City goal and when they did Alan Fettis denied efforts at the near post from both Jamie Cureton and Tony Rougier.

Indeed, as the half wore on, it was City who looked the most likely to score again and just four minutes from the break City got a second goal their efforts deserved.

Richard Cooper played in Bullock in the inside right channel and when the midfielder-cum-striker's fierce shot was only parried by Jamie Ashdown in the Reading goal Potter was on hand to bundle the ball home.

Proof, if it were needed, that this was going to be City's day came just five minutes into the second period when James Harper's free-kick from 25-yards cannoned back off the post and away with Fettis this time well-beaten.

But if Reading contrived to just shade possession they didn't do much with it as City continued to look the more threatening and fluid.

Proctor squirmed past three Reading defenders to fire a low shot at Ashdown before a sublime turn on the by-line enabled him to square for Bullock only for a Royals' defender to get in an important block.

City had a good claim for a penalty turned away when skipper Chris Brass was bundled over by John Mackie as he bore down on goal before Reading had a goal ruled out at the death when Darius Henderson pushed the ball home with his hand.

Even if it had been allowed, it would have been no more than a consolation for the visitors.

Much has been made of the 'C-factors' playing a part in City's troubles in recent campaigns - confidence last season and consistency this.

On Saturday, City had a 'vitamin-C' overdose - composed, confident and concentrated.

If they can now reproduce that sort of display in the league and so find that much sought-after consistency then 2002 yet might turn out to be a happy New Year for the Minstermen.

York City 2 Reading 0

York City: Fettis 7, Edmondson 7, Basham 8, Smith 8, Maley 7, Cooper 8, Brass 8, Richardson 7, Potter 7, Bullock 8, Proctor 8 Subs, not used: Howarth, Mathie, Hocking, Stamp, O'Kane 88m (unsporting conduct)Sent-off: None

Scorers: Richardson 4m, Potter 41m

Reading: Ashdown, Murty, Viveash (Mackie 69m), Williams, Shorey, Hughes (Tyson 80m), Harper, Jones, Rougier (Igoe 72m), Henderson, Cureton

Subs, not used: Malessa, Parkinson Bookings: Murty 41m (dissent)

Sent-off: None

Man of the match: Chris Smith: The former Reading youngster was inspired against his old club, just shading his defensive partner, Mike Basham, for the award.

Updated: 12:19 Monday, December 10, 2001