O COME All Ye Faithful will prove a seasonal favourite at many a Midnight Mass this evening.

But it could have also served as an appropriate soundtrack for York City's Setanta Shield fourth round clash at Stafford Rangers.

Seventy-two City supporters travelled to Marston Road on the Saturday before Christmas to brave freezing conditions more suggestive of 1960s Stalingrad than Stafford. Their loyalty was then further tested when the scoreline remained goalless after 90 minutes.

A subsequent tannoy reminder that the game would be decided by extra-time or penalties was even greeted by groans from certain sections of the home crowd.

But goals from substitute Richard Brodie and leading scorer Onome Sodje left City's frost-bitten fans feeling slightly warmer towards a competition commonly regarded as about as fashionable as a Christmas jumper knitted by your Nan.

For City, the Shield encounter also carried greater significance than simply negotiating the first hurdle towards a final that will be held at "a Blue Square Premier ground at the very least" according, somewhat underwhelmingly, to Conference general manager Dennis Strudwick.

In defeating Stafford, a new club record of six successive away victories was set, which will have further strengthened caretaker manager Colin Walker's claims to be given the job on a permanent basis.

Prize money of £2,500, while modest, will also be welcomed into the KitKat Crescent coffers and, having been starved of cup success in recent seasons, the prospect of a run in any competition, however much maligned, marks a refreshing change.

The importance of continuing to build momentum will not be lost on Walker either with Saturday's result taking his tally to four wins and a draw during his unbeaten start to management.

Furthermore, Darren Craddock became the latest player to reward Walker with an impressive performance on his recall to the team and Nicky Wroe turned in an eye-catching substitute outing.

Craddock returned as the left-sided member of City's three-man defence in place of the suspended David McGurk and helped the Minstermen end a run of seven matches without a clean sheet since the 6-0 FA Cup rout of Rushall.

Until extra-time highlighted the gulf in fitness levels between City and their part-time hosts, however, the tie was evenly poised with Stafford centre-backs Wayne Daniel and Jemiah Richards coping capably with Sodje before fading in the final stages.

At the other end of the pitch, Stafford player-manager and former Nestlé Rowntree striker Neil Grayson, who at 43 is just six years younger than City chief Walker, completed the full 120 minutes and fired narrowly wide from 15 yards early on.

Midfielder Samy Mawene also went close with two long-range efforts - the first spilled by Tom Evans before Craddock scrambled the loose ball to safety.

Anthony Lloyd cleared a Richards header off the line as well, while Sodje forced Danny Alcock into a near-post save with the visitors' best opportunity of the first period.

Seconds after the restart, Alcock clawed away a terrific 25-yard strike by City skipper Manny Panther that was destined for his top right-hand corner.

Martyn Woolford then tested Alcock from a similar distance before Kevin Street wasted an excellent chance for Stafford, shooting weakly at Evans from four yards after exchanging passes with former Minsterman David McNiven.

Daniel executed a superbly-timed recovery tackle on Sodje as he bore down on Alcock's goal in the 56th minute, but City assumed the ascendancy for the remainder of the game.

Wroe's 25-yard effort was parried by Alcock and Brodie saw his near-post header miss the target following a cross by Ben Purkiss who, in turn, saw a header of his own cleared off the line by Chris Flynn, which proved City's last opportunity to win the tie in normal time.

In the first period of extra-time, Brodie's centre for an unmarked Sodje was intercepted by Daniel before Wroe threaded a precise pass through for the striker to open the scoring with a neat 99th-minute finish past Alcock, using the outside of his left boot to find the Stafford 'keeper's bottom right-hand corner from 12 yards.

Sodje then failed to tee up a tap-in for Brodie when his cross was smothered by Alcock. Brodie also shot selfishly at the home 'keeper when Sodje was similarly well placed in front of goal.

But the Minstermen doubled their margin of victory in the third minute of injury time when Wroe made a timely interception before claiming his second assist of the game by releasing Sodje from inside his own half.

The 19-year-old striker went on to bear down on Alcock's goal before sidefooting into his bottom left-hand corner. His late effort ensured City would take away more from Marston Road than the cold pizza that had been ordered on the assumption that the tie would be settled in 90 minutes.

Stafford Rangers 0, York City 2 (Brodie 99, Sodje 120)

York City: Tom Evans 7, Danny Parslow 8, Darren Craddock 8, Darren Kelly 8, Ben Purkiss 8, Anthony Lloyd 7, Stuart Elliott 7, Manny Panther 8, Martyn Woolford 7, Onome Sodje 7, Craig Farrell 7.

Substitutions: Richard Brodie (for Farrell, 61) 7, Nicky Wroe (for Woolford, 70) 8.

Subs not used: Josh Mimms, Andy McWilliams, Chris Beardsley.

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: Craddock - rarely put a foot wrong on his return to the team in an unfamiliar position.

Stafford Rangers: Danny Alcock, Richie Sutton, Wayne Daniel, Jemiah Richards, Luke Potter, Kevin Street, Ross Draper (Sebastian Arnolin, 77), Samy Mawene, Chris Flynn, Neil Grayson, David McNiven (Sebastian Hamilton, 95).

Subs not used: Tom Ingram, Steve Hopkinson, Danny Allen.

Shots on target: Stafford 5 York 12

Shots off target: Stafford 12 York 13

Corners: Stafford 6 York 9

Fouls conceded: Stafford 12 York 13

Offsides: Stafford 3 York 5.

Yellow cards: Flynn 101.

Referee: Paul Curry (Ashington).

Rating: over-protective towards goalkeepers at times but, otherwise, reasonably sensible.

Attendance: 515.

Pass of the match: Wroe's pinpoint through ball that provided the chance for Brodie to break the deadlock.

Shot of the match: Panther's rising effort early in the first half.

Tackle of the match: Daniel's sliding challenge on Sodje.

City player watch: Centre-back Darren Kelly

Goal attempts on target: 0

Goal attempts off target: 1

Blocked goal attempts: 0

Passes to own player: 28

Passes to opposition: 5

Crosses to own player: 0

Crosses to opposition: 1

Pass success rate: 82.4 per cent

Dribbles ball retained: 0

Dribbles ball lost: 1

Dribble success rate: 0 per cent

Headers: 25 Tackles: 4

Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 12

Free-kicks won: 2

Free-kicks conceded: 3

Offsides: 0

Bookings: 0

Final summary: Darren Kelly gave a solid performance at the heart of City's three-man defence and was reasonably reliable in possession.

He was generally untroubled in the air and one of his 25 headers came close to breaking the deadlock in injury time.

He did concede three first-half fouls for climbing, though, before cleaning up his act for the rest of the game.