What follows after the calm is usually a storm and so it proved.

A second goalless stalemate in successive weeks for York City but one far removed from the stale, tepid encounter at Southend a week earlier.

All the unsavoury skirmishes, both on and off the pitch, however should not detract from a truly absorbing, passionate cup-tie-like encounter.

Nor should the incidents and accidents detract from another auspicious performance from Terry Dolan's Minstermen that leaves preservation of Football League status within touching distance.

City rarely looked troubled by a Darlington side renowned for their potency and seemingly destined for a higher division.

Evidence of City's re-instilled resilience was there for all to see after Kevin Hulme's second half dismissal.

And so too was much needed self-belief and a will to win, for even after York were reduced to ten men the Minstermen could very easily have snatched all three points.

The Quakers started like a team with championship ambition, as purposeful and bright as their garish yellow shirts.

Marco Gabbiadini, roundly booed by the Bootham Crescent faithful and a player seemingly ready to argue with himself, was the fulcrum about which most of Darlington's promptings pivoted.

Neil Wainwright, with his obvious pace and directness, was a constant threat down the right and when Gabbiadini dropped deep Lee Nogan was quick to fill the space.

But despite Darlington's flexible formation - three at the back and a forward thinking five-man midfield - and for all their neat one-twos on the edge of the City box, rarely was Alan Fettis in the York goal threatened in a match of few gilt-edged chances.

Indeed, it was City who had the first real sniff of goal.

Barry Jones floated in a free-kick from the half-way line that Mark Sertori cushioned into the path of Barry Conlon.

The Irishman twisted one way then the other only to have former City skipper Steve Tutill fling himself bravely at the ball and block the shot.

Indications of what was to come were provided by Darren Edmondson who dived in on ex-City 'keeper Mark Samways before both Hulme and Peter Duffield went into the referee's book for a touchline tangle.

There was no denying the game had an edge. Tempers were fraying, feuds were simmering but the football continued to ebb and flow.

Fettis, under pressure, dropped Wainwright's corner but made amends when he saved Duffield's resultant snap-shot low down to his left.

Gabbiadini then flashed a right foot free-kick just wide of the upright.

City, for the first 30 minutes like a side treading water, regrouped and gradually inched their way up field to set their own agenda.

Sertori back-heeled the ball into the path of Hawkins whose deep, deep cross was just too high for both Hulme and Edmondson.

Christian Fox then charged down Craig Liddle's fierce drive, played the ball out to Conlon before picking up the return.

The teenager rolled his cross in behind a retreating Darlington rearguard and into the path of Sertori only for the big man to be denied by a decisive touch from Neil Aspin.

It was Conlon who perhaps offered City's best hope of a goal, arching his back to head Steve Agnew's corner just wide before half-time then at least forcing a safe with another header, this time from Hawkins' early cross, just minutes after the restart.

Ten minutes later and the simmering discontent reached a crescendo.

Gabbiadini, leading with his arm, clearly caught Jones with an elbow. Accidental or not, City were incensed but as Jones lay prostrate so Gabbiadini closed in on the City goal.

Across came Hulme, up went his boot and down went the Darlington striker.

Amid all the ensuing pushing and shoving, the City midfielder was already making his way to the tunnel before referee Paul Robinson had chance to brandish red.

A man down, City were left facing a mighty task if they were to salvage something from the game.

A quick reshuffle saw Sertori installed into the back line alongside Peter Swan and Jones with Mark Bower and Edmondson operating as wing-backs.

Hawkins pushed forward while Fox, for much of the match a peripheral figure, linked up with Agnew, and began to stamp his authority.

Duffield curled a teasing effort just inches wide before Gabbiadini headed over a good chance from Neil Heaney's cross.

But in reality Darlington could only cough and splutter their way through the amassed red ranks as City looked more than a good bet for point.

The tension continued to mount; Edmondson falling foul of a stray boot before Agnew was accidentally stamped on by Gabbiadini.

Samways had to be alert to keep out Agnew's stirring 25-yard curler before the best chance of the match fell City's way.

Deep into stoppage time the veteran midfielder charged down the right before firing in a low, bouncing cross that dissected the Darlington defence.

Substitute Colin Alcide looked set to repeat his Hartlepool heroics of two weeks earlier but, six yards out, missed the ball.

YORK CITY: Alan Fettis 7, Barry Jones 7, Peter Hawkins 6, Mark Bower 8, Peter Swan 8, Kevin Hulme 5, Steve Agnew 6, Darren Edmondson 6, Barry Conlon 7 (Colin Alcide 74mins), Mark Sertori 6, Christian Fox 7 (Lee Bullock 93mins).
Subs not used: Russ Howarth, Chris Fairclough, John Williams
Goals: None.
Bookings: Sertori 26mins, foul; Edmondson 87mins, unsporting conduct.
Sent-off: Hulme two bookable offences (18mins unsporting conduct, 55mins foul)
Statistics: Half Time: 0 Corners: 5 Shots on Target: 2 Fouls Committed: 13
Evening Press Unique Pub Man of the match: Peter Swan: Justified his recall in favour of Chris Fairclough after serving a one match suspension. Coolnees personified amid all the hurly burly. Never flustered and rarely missed a header

DARLINGTON: Mark Samways, Craig Liddle, Neil Aspin, Paul Heckingbottom, Steve Tutill, Martin Gray (Brian Atkinson 77mins), Neil Wainwright, Marco Gabbiadini, Glenn Naylor (Jesper Hjorth 77mins), Peter Duffield, Lee Nogan (Neil Heaney 69mins)
Subs not used: Chris Porter, Phil Brumwell
Goals: None
Bookings: Duffield 18mins, Naylor 57mins, both unsporting conduct; Gabbiadini 93mins foul.
Sendings off: None
Statistics: Half Time: 0 Corners: 5 Shots on Target: 2 Fouls Committed: 9

Attendance: 5,308
Referee: Paul Robinson (Hull)