IN recent seasons, November has become the charitable time for growing moustaches in football.

It has also been a hairy period of the year for a succession of York City managers.

Martin Foyle’s predecessors Colin Walker, Billy McEwan and Chris Brass have all seen the fire put out on their Bootham Crescent careers a matter of days after Guy Fawkes night.

November has held little fear, however, for Foyle, who has ended the month – his 12th in charge of the club – with a 100 per cent return of six victories.

That impressive haul has included two FA Cup wins to guide the Minstermen into the third round draw for the first time in eight years. For the City board, the team’s current league and Cup progress represents a justification of their foresight in appointing Foyle and for their belief in his transfer market judgement over the summer.

Michael Rankine, whose £10,000 signing from Rushden and Diamonds raised a few eyebrows, is certainly thriving in his first season under the former Port Vale chief’s stewardship and his 37th-minute goal to send City on the way to a 2-1 FA Cup second round victory at Cambridge might not be matched in this season’s competition.

Collecting the ball down the left channel on 37 minutes, Rankine set off on a strong diagonal run before unleashing a 25-yard, net-bulging strike that rocketed into home ’keeper Danny Potter’s top left-hand corner.

Two minutes later, Rankine’s striking partner Richard Brodie was tugged back by Robbie Willmott before converting his fifth penalty of the season – all of which he has won for himself.

Such is Brodie’s confidence now from 12 yards, Foyle’s decision to look away when his side are awarded a spot kick must owe more to superstition than nerves.

In a closely-contested half, City’s hard-working strikers had once more proved the difference between two teams, while Chris Holroyd – 18-goal Brodie’s nearest contender for the Blue Square Premier golden boot – was well shackled by visiting centre-backs David McGurk and Luke Graham.

The second period, though, followed an increasingly familiar pattern with Cambridge camped in the visitors’ half for long periods and City mustering just one counter attack in response.

An over-stretched Minstermen defence held out manfully until the 83rd minute when left-back Anthony Tonkin’s 25-yard strike bounced in off both posts.

By the end of a nail-biting 90 minutes, the home side had managed 14 shots as opposed to City’s four and forced 15 corners compared to the visitors’ one.

But, despite goalkeeper Potter being thrown forward twice in the closing stages, Foyle’s men survived the onslaught with the immaculate Michael Ingham making a towering catch in his six-yard box seconds before referee Steve Rushton blew the final whistle.

Earlier, Cambridge had started the game brightly, making light of the absence of suspended ever-present central-midfielders Jai Reason and Paul Carden.

Holroyd and Rory McAuley both had sights of the Minstermen goal before Brodie sidestepped home centre-back Brian Saah only for his left-footed effort to lack the necessary power to beat Potter.

It did, however, appear to offer encouragement for the visitors.

Moments later, Rankine collected a long punt forward by Ingham before embarking on the purposeful run that saw him fire his team in front.

Brodie then charged down the left before cutting inside Willmott, who grabbed the City striker’s shirt an inch inside the 18-yard box.

Dusting himself down, Brodie coolly despatched his penalty into Potter’s bottom right-hand corner while the U’s ’keeper dived in the opposite direction. Other than his late forays forward, though, Potter was a virtual spectator in the second half.

Sam Ives drove wide from the edge of the box following Courtney Pitt’s 50th-minute corner and McAuley’s header also missed the target from a Willmott flag kick.

Willmott then drove over from 20 yards after he drifted in from the left flank, while Tonkin brushed the sidenetting with a far-post volley.

On 80 minutes, Brodie missed a great opportunity to relieve the pressure and settle the tie when he beat the offside trap and raced on to Chris Carruthers’ up-and-under but stabbed the ball wide of Potter’s goal.

Shortly afterwards, Tonkin finally beat Ingham, leading to a pulsating climax as the home side sent ball after ball into the visitors’ penalty box.

McGurk, Graham and James Meredith all made crucial blocks or headed clearances, however, with McAuley seeing a ten-yard chance deflected wide.

Holroyd also headed over from a dangerous Pitt cross before Ingham saved a rising attempt by substitute Adam Marriott.

Finally, after five fraught minutes of stoppage time, City were celebrating victory, a place in the world-famous third round and a November to remember.

Match facts

Cambridge United 1, York City 2 (Rankine 37; Brodie pen 40)

York City : Michael Ingham 8, Daniel Parslow 8, Luke Graham 8, David McGurk 9, James Meredith 8, Alex Lawless 7, Levi Mackin 7, Neil Barrett 7, Chris Carruthers 7, Michael Rankine 8, Richard Brodie 8

Substitutions: Michael Gash (for Rankine, 88); Andy Ferrell (for Barrett, 90).

Subs not used: Mimms, Smith, Gall, Berry, McWilliams.

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: McGurk – made countless headers, clearances and blocks as the pressure intensified.

Cambridge: Danny Potter, Dan Gleeson, Brian Saah, Wayne Hatswell, Anthony Tonkin, Robbie Willmott, Sam Ives (Adam Marriott, 80), Rory McAuley, Courtney Pitt, Chris Holroyd, Danny Crow.

Subs not used: Josh Coulson, Andy Parkinson, Ben Farrell, Darryl Coakley, Jordan Patrick, Laurie Walker.

Bookings: Hatswell 74, Ingham 83, Holroyd 83.

Referee: Steve Rushton (Stoke-on-Trent). Rating: generally okay, but quick to penalise Brodie and Rankine.

Attendance: 3,505 (800 City approx).

Shot of the match: Rankine’s goal might just win shot of the season.

Run of the match: A weaving dribble into the box by Brodie, whose cross would have teed up a great chance for Rankine had he not slipped.

Head to head - Luke Graham v Chris Holroyd

For the second time this season, hot-shot Holroyd was kept off the scoresheet by the Minstermen. Graham made several timely clearances, blocks and headers to thwart the Cambridge striker. When Holroyd did get a sight of goal, he missed the target three times, twice with headers and once with an outstretched boot from Pitt’s cross.