SNOW-SHOVELLING Darlington supporters ensured Saturday’s FA Cup tie against York City at the Northern Echo Arena went ahead against all expectations.

But it was the visitors who then dug the deepest to progress to the third round of the competition.

Having demonstrated resilience to eventually overcome a stubborn Southport side on Tuesday night, the Minstermen displayed tenacity to contend with a typically robust and uncompromising Mark Cooper team.

For those reasons, both victories have been just as encouraging as the footballing lessons handed out to Rotherham and Rushden at the start of the current impressive run of four consecutive wins without conceding a goal.

At Darlington, combative midfield pair Djoumin Sangare and Jonathan Smith set the tone for the afternoon.

Recalled anchorman Sangare, performing well enough to prevent the likes of Levi Mackin and Chris Carruthers getting back into the team, was positive from the start and his enthusiasm proved infectious as he took pot shots at the home goal before opening the scoring on 44 minutes.

Alongside Sangare, Smith was also sprightly in the opening exchanges, winning tackles and threading through incisive passes before limping out of the action on 19 minutes having jumped into one challenge too many – a shinpad-splintering half-way line clash with Darlington defender Liam Hatch.

Substitute Neil Barrett compensated for his loss though and there were also two more towering performances at both ends of the pitch from leading marksman Michael Rankine and skipper Chris Smith.

Rankine laid on the goals for Sangare and Ashley Chambers, while Smith’s immaculate anticipation snuffed out a series of home attacks as he operated alongside defensive partner David McGurk, whose displays have never dipped since his transfer request was written and then rejected five games ago.

City left-back James Meredith forced the first save of the match on 11 minutes when he drilled a low 25-yard drive at home ’keeper Sam Russell following Jonathan Smith’s perfectly-weighted square pass.

Sangare also went close with a pair of ambitious efforts.

His 40-yard attempted lob was kept out by the backpedalling Russell on 17 minutes before a firmly-struck edge-of-the-box effort flashed narrowly wide.

At the other end, Chris Smith’s sliding block prevented Chris Senior finding fellow frontman Tommy Wright in a two-on-one situation and Aaron Brown went close with a curling free-kick.

But Peter Till might have found the net on 37 minutes, prodding wide after Meredith’s throw skimmed off the top of Danny Hone’s head to give him a clear sight of goal.

The miss was soon forgotten, though, when Rankine headed on Michael Ingham’s goal kick and Sangare capitalised on indecisive home defending to shoot into Russell’s bottom left-hand corner after storming into the penalty box.

Ingham made his first save eight minutes into the second half but it was only a routine stop from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s free-kick and City might have extended their lead when Rankine rose high to meet Till’s left-wing cross but could not keep his header down.

On 78 minutes, Senior sidefooted wide of Ingham’s near post after Darlington substitute Chris Moore had wriggled past makeshift right-back Robbie Weir too easily before sending in a low cross.

Meredith then came to his side’s rescue as the home team pressed for a replay.

City captain Smith made his only mistake of the match when his poor clearance fell to Michael Brough but the Quakers midfielder’s goalbound effort was headed over by Aussie full-back Meredith with Ingham beaten.

Racchi then fired over for the visitors before Ingham aimed a long boot forward for Rankine to chase down the right channel in the third minute of stoppage time.

The 6ft 3in striker bustled his way past Brown and sent in a low cross that Russell could not claim.

That left Chambers to walk the ball into an empty net at the far post, triggering wild celebrations among City’s 1,447-strong travelling army of supporters.

Match facts

Darlington 0, York City 2 (Sangare 44; Chambers 90+3)

York City: Michael Ingham 7, Robbie Weir 6, David McGurk 8, Chris Smith 8, James Meredith 8, Djoumin Sangare 9, Jonathan Smith , Danny Racchi 7, Ashley Chambers 7, Michael Rankine 8, Peter Till 7.

Substitutions: Neil Barrett 7 (for J Smith, 19), Jamal Fyfield (for Till, 72), Leon Constantine (for Rankine, 90).

Not used: Carruthers, Knight, Young, McDermott.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: Sangare – determined display, ensuring City were as committed to the physical challenge as they were to playing football.

Darlington: Sam Russell; Ian Miller, Liam Hatch, Danny Hone, Aaron Brown; Keith Gillespie (Chris Moore, 72), Michael Brough, Aman Verma, Chris Senior; Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Tommy Wright (Paul Arnison, 55).

Subs not used: Michael Bertram, Gary Smith, Curtis Main, Phil Gray, Josh Gray.

Booked: Hatch 30, Sangare 36, Brough 79, Arnison 83, Chambers 89, Brown 90, Meredith 90.

Shots on target: Darlington 3, City 5.

Shots off target: Darlington 8, City 6.

Corners: Darlington 6, City 6.

Fouls: Darlington 14, City 12.

Offsides: Darlington 0, City 1.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).

Rating: firm display in the face of some intimidating home challenges.

Attendance: 3,481 (1,447 from City).

Miss of the match: Till should have at least hit the target when clear on goal in the 37th minute.

Clearance of the match: Meredith’s headed intervention prevented a scarcely-deserved equaliser.

Head to head Djoumin Sangare v Keith Gillespie

City’s converted centre-back did a fine job anchoring the visitors’ midfield and kept the shackles on former Manchester United and Newcastle star Gillespie.

Despite being employed as a destroyer, Sangare also managed to provide more of a goal threat than the former Northern Ireland international, who scuffed his one chance at compatriot Michael Ingham before exiting the action.

Gillespie’s naming as the sponsor’s man of the match on the tannoy was later greeted with derision by the home fans while Sangare’s popularity with the City faithful rises unabated after his star showing and opening goal.