SHAVEN-HEADED hero Richard Brodie helped York City claim a notable scalp at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.

Brodie took his season’s tally to 14 with two goals in a thrilling 3-2 FA Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra, who might be 15th in League Two now but look sure to be nearer the top of the table than the bottom come the end of the season, having reinstalled Dario Gradi as manager.

The Railwaymen’s commitment to attractive, attacking football under Gradi has always been lauded and came to the fore during an impressive first-half display against the Minstermen.

Joel Grant and Calvin Zola gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at the break although Brodie’s excellently-headed equaliser, sandwiched in between, offered encouragement for a City side whose task had looked daunting before a ball was kicked when glancing at the team sheet.

From Saturday’s starting line-up, on-loan pair Simon Walton and Steve Phillips both boast strong Championship pedigrees while Calvin Zola had always been a much-feared target man in League One prior to Crewe’s relegation.

In Grant, John Brayford, Mat Mitchel-King and Patrick Ada, the Railwaymen have also recruited some of the top Blue Square Premier performers during recent times, while under-21 quartet Byron Moore, James Bailey, Ashley Westwood and Danny Shelley are, typically for a club boasting an unrivalled record in youth development, home-grown talents whose ability will, no doubt, become even more apparent in future years.

Clayton Donaldson, who plundered 44 goals in two seasons for City, could only make the bench.

In Brodie and strike partner Michael Rankine, though, York have two forwards whose work ethic, enthusiasm and strength would have unsettled any defence in Saturday’s first round draw.

Rankine’s aerial ability also offers City a more direct option when needed although the hosts’ dramatic 87th-minute winning goal was worthy of securing victory against football purists Crewe.

Top scorer Brodie started and finished the move, passing to substitute Craig Nelthorpe, who in turn found Rankine.

He then laid the ball into the path of a rampaging Brodie who burst powerfully into the box, held off the challenges of three defenders and chose exactly the right moment to lift the ball beyond a grounded Phillips with his weaker right foot from eight yards out.

Just two minutes earlier, sub Richard Pacquette had equalised with his first touch during a grandstand finish following a tough start to the game.

Zola, with 13 goals to his name this season, should have opened the scoring after just six minutes but blazed wastefully into the away end with just Ingham to beat.

Winger Grant also dragged a deflected attempt wide of goal after Moore had left home skipper Daniel Parslow on his backside.

Brodie glanced a header off target for City on 32 minutes but Crewe forged ahead within seconds.

City right-back Ben Purkiss afforded Grant far too much space in which to receive Moore’s cross to the far post and then failed to close down the former Aldershot attacker quickly enough and he drilled a fiercely-struck shot into the roof of Michael Ingham’s net.

Grant, encouraged by the trouble his surging runs were causing Purkiss, also shot wide from 20 yards moments later.

The Minstermen responded, though, with an equaliser against the run of play. Adam Smith raided down the right and then crossed into the penalty box where Brodie stole in front of his marker Ada to plant a firm header past Phillips.

Parity proved short-lived with Grant charging this time at a back-pedalling David McGurk before crossing to the far post where the unmarked Zola beat an exposed, but stationary, Ingham.

Crewe started the second half in positive fashion but City gradually began to impose themselves.

On 59 minutes, Rankine was flagged offside as he followed up to net the rebound when Alex Lawless’ 25-yard effort was only parried by Phillips.

Zola missed a great opportunity to double the visitors’ advantage shortly afterwards, heading over with only Ingham to beat but, at the other end, Brodie drove over from 20 yards before home manager Martin Foyle made the first in a series of tactical changes to win the tie.

Nelthorpe was introduced as the City chief opted for two out-and-out wingers and, on 77 minutes, Rankine headed over from a Lawless free-kick.

Moments later, Smith volleyed off target from 20 yards while Moore shot straight at Ingham in a rare attack for Crewe.

City, who had forced a succession of second-half corners, eventually made a flag kick count.

Pacquette, on just two minutes earlier as Foyle replaced left-back James Meredith for a third forward, saw Neil Barrett’s out-swinger fall to his feet 12 yards from goal after Rankine failed to connect properly at the near post.

The former Havant and Waterlooville foward, a third round scorer at Anfield two seasons ago, shot through Brodie’s legs and his effort crossed the line despite Bailey’s attempted clearance.

Sensibly, Foyle reverted back to 4-4-2 by handing centre-back Luke Graham his debut but Brodie, who had been switched to the left wing, drifted inside to fire City into the second round.

Gradi immediately sent on former City favourite Donaldson as part of a triple substitution but the home side went closest to adding to the scoreline when Nelthorpe picked out Pacquette only for his angled drive to be saved by Phillips during a nailbiting three minutes of stoppage time.

Match facts

York City 3 (Brodie 39, 87; Pacquette 85 ), Crewe 2 (Grant 33; Zola 41)

York City: Michael Ingham 6, Ben Purkiss 6, Daniel Parslow 7, David McGurk 7, James Meredith 8, Adam Smith 7, Alex Lawless 7, Neil Barrett 7, Chris Carruthers 7, Michael Rankine 8, Richard Brodie 9.

Substitutions: Craig Nelthorpe (for Carruthers, 75), Richard Pacquette (for Meredith, 83), Luke Graham (for Smith, 86).

Subs not used: Mimms, McWilliams, Mackin, Boyes.

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: Brodie – great goals and terrific attitude from City’s attacking talisman.

Crewe: Steve Phillips, John Brayford, Patrick Ada, Mat Mitchel-King, Ashley Westwood, Danny Shelley, James Bailey (Chris Clements, 88), Simon Walton, Joel Grant (Luke Murphy, 88), Calvin Zola (Clayton Donaldson, 88), Byron Moore.

Subs not used: Danny O'Donnell, Adam Legzdins, Matt Tootle.

Bookings: None.

Shots on target: York 6, Crewe 5.

Shots off target: York 7, Crewe 10.

Corners: York 12, Crewe 3.

Fouls conceded: York 4, Crewe 10.

Offsides: York 3, Crewe 0.

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincoln). Rating: made the odd strange decision but generally level-headed.

Attendance: 3,070 (365 from Crewe).

Miss of the match: Zola’s early let-off for City.

Decision of the match: Foyle boldly sending on a third forward in Pacquette.

Head to head - Chris Carruthers v John Brayford

On-loan Oxford utility man Chris Carruthers was preferred to Andy Ferrell on the left side of midfield and prevented former Burton right-back John Brayford from making the rampaging forward runs he is noted for.

Carruthers did not, though, unduly worry Brayford in an attacking sense, making few telling crosses. He eventually made way for the more adventurous Nelthorpe, who played his part in helping City secure victory.