by Dave Stanford

AS romantic as the FA Cup is, victory over Peter Taylor's Premiership high-fliers was always going to be an improbable occurrence for York City.

And so as unromantic as it sounds, the main priorities for all but the most gloriously optimistic were always to boost the Bootham Crescent coffers and avoid a humiliating, demoralising, heavy defeat.

A near 17,000 Filbert Street gate and a performance of grit and determination then ensured missions accomplished for Terry Dolan's Minstermen - and more besides.

For despite the 3-0 scoreline in favour of their illustrious hosts few of the 3,000-plus City fans - who backed their team to the hilt from the first to the last minute - would have headed home on Saturday night with heavy hearts.

The final scoreline could in fact have read 6-0 to Leicester but still the Minstermen emerged from this encounter with great credit.

At half-time there was more than a whiff of a cup upset wafting around Filbert Street.

A superb rear-guard action from City had made a mockery of Leicester's eminent place in football society and seen the Foxes head down the tunnel at half-time to a cacophony of boos.

It could, should, have been worse.

If Chris Iwelumo had dispatched his gilt-edged opportunity less than ten minutes before the break then who knows what the final outcome would have been.

The on-loan striker seized on Matthew Jones' sloppy pass - symptomatic of Leicester's first-half problems - and raced clear but with only Simon Royce in the Leicester goal to beat probably had too much time and pulled his shot horribly wide.

It looked a costly miss and so it was to prove as Leicester finally flexed their top-flight muscle after the break, scoring three times in the space of 17 minutes.

The Foxes threatened to run riot thereafter but found Alan Fettis in stunning form which was fortunate for City - a bigger scoreline would have been unjust on the Minstermen and largely undeserved for Leicester.

For a side supposedly on the uppers after two damaging League defeats, the Foxes played like a team going through the motions in the first half.

Possession was plentiful but Leicester were too one-paced and their penetration non-existent.

To chastise the Foxes too much however would detract from City's opening 45 minutes of stoic, never desperate, defending.

The Minstermen, having obviously done their homework, had a gameplan and stuck too it rigidly; Iwelumo was left to forage for scraps up front alone while David McNiven dropped deep to shore up the midfield.

It meant Leicester's centre-backs, particularly Phil Gilchrist and Gary Rowett, and ex-Leeds midfielder Jones saw plenty of the ball but rarely, if at all., was it delivered into areas that could hurt City.

On the rare occasions that it was, City's three pillars of Darren Patterson, Mark Bower and the impeccable Colin Alcide snuffed out any danger with a succession of finely-timed challenges.

True, City's attacking forays were limited but even discounting Iwelumo's effort they still had the clearest opportunity of forcing a breakthrough.

It came as early as the ninth minute. Leicester skipper Matt Elliott completely missed his clearance from Marc Thompson's throw allowing McNiven to seize on the loose ball.

City's top scorer raced forward, knocked the ball past Rowett but from a tight angle could only drill his effort wide of Royce's near post.

More than a third of the game was gone before Leicester finally managed a shot on target, Robbie Savage seizing on McNiven's sliced clearance and firing in a stiff shot that was well-saved by Fettis.

Iwelumo's miscue followed three minutes later and, just to make matters worse for City, sparked Leicester into long overdue life.

Fettis denied a Muzzy Izzet drive and then saved well from Trevor Benjamin before punching clear Savage's wicked inswinger.

But still City could claim the moral victory for a near faultless opening half and Leicester's late rally had clearly done little to impress Taylor, who hauled off Gilchrist and the ineffective Ade Akinbiyi for Stefan Oakes and former Minsterman Richard Cresswell at half-time.

Within 30 seconds of the restart the duo had made their mark and fired an ominous warning across the City bows.

Oakes delivered a vicious cross in from the left to pick out Cresswell just eight yards out but with the goal at his mercy the ex-City star headed over. It looked as bad a miss as Iwelumo's.

Five minutes later, Leicester finally got the ball in the City net but the goal was ruled out for offside, Cresswell the guilty man again, just straying beyond City's last man to get the faintest of touches to Steve Guppy's goal-bound shot.

It was backs to the walls stuff for City but when Fettis produced the save of the match to deny Cresswell's point blank header, down low to his right, the sense that this just might be York's afternoon was growing ever stronger.

Alas it was not to be. Three minutes later, Leicester got their noses in front.

Izzet's corner was headed on by Elliott and Rowett, unmarked at the far post, volleyed the ball home.

The sense of relief that swept around Filbert Street was almost visible and five minutes later it surely was.

Benjamin bustled past Bower and as he shaped to shoot was bundled over by a clumsy challenge from Hulme. From the spot-kick Izzet sent Fettis the wrong way and left City with a mountain to climb.

Now chasing the match, City boss Terry Dolan had to throw caution to the wind and replaced Graham Potter with another forward in Alex Mathie.

It left City's left-side more exposed, which Andy Impey was able to exploit to good effect.

The former West Ham star was released by Savage and his curling cross was met with gusto by Cresswell, whose powerful diving header left Fettis grasping at thin air.

Leicester kept their foot on the pedal - Cresswell going close with an overhead kick, Benjamin lifting the ball over Fettis but wide of the post before the City keeper produced another fingertip save to deny Cresswell a second.

City, to their credit, went in search of a consolation and at least managed to earn their first corner before Matt Hocking and Alex Mathie both tested Royce with efforts from distance.

But defeat was to prove their only reward. At least it was a noble one.

Leicester City

Scorers: Rowett 56mins, Izzet (penalty) 62mins, Cresswell 73mins

LEICESTER CITY: Simon Royce, Andy Impey, Gary Rowett, Matt Elliott, Phil Gilchrist (Stefan Oakes 47mins), Steve Guppy, Robbie Savage (Damien Delaney 74mins), Matthew Jones, Muzzy Izzet, Ade Akinbiyi (Richard Cresswell 46mins), Trevor Benjamin.

Subs, not used: Michael Price, Arnar Gunnlaugsson

Booked: None

Sent off: None

York City

York City: Alan Fettis 9; Marc Thompson 7 (Matt Hocking 82mins), Colin Alcide 9, Darren Patterson 8, Mark Bower 8, Graham Potter 6 (Alex Mathie 70mins 6); Christian Fox 6 (Wayne Hall 80mins), Steve Agnew 6, Kevin Hulme 6, David McNiven 7, Chris Iwelumo 6.

Subs, not used: Russ Howarth, Neville Stamp

Booked: Agnew (dissent) 12 mins

Sent off: None