"I FEEL like I never left," said returning striker Clayton Donaldson after he netted York City's winner during their pre-season friendly at Whitby Town last Saturday.

The 37-year-old departed the Minstermen at the end of the 2006/07 season after making 85 appearances.

He scored at a phenomenal rate, hitting the back of the net 44 times in his two seasons at Bootham Crescent - more than once every other game. Donaldson's next best goals-per-game ratio came during his time at Crewe Alexandra, where he scored 47 times in 117 appearances.

Following his release from League Two outfit Bradford City at the end of last season, York manager Steve Watson secured his signature last month for the upcoming 2021/22 National League North season.

And the Jamaica international made it an ideal homecoming with a thumping finish from close range at the Turnbull Ground to ensure York's first game of pre-season ended in 2-1 victory.

"It's always good to finish off with a goal," he said.

"But what's more important is gearing up for the season.

"I enjoyed it, a second debut - it's good to be back.

"I was happy to be involved and here.

"I feel like I never left, to be honest.

"Everyone's been great.

"To get a goal, that's a great start for me and gives me a lot of confidence going into the season."

It was a good day for the recruits at Whitby, with Mackenzie Heaney - operating under the moniker of Trialist 'G' - curling in a fine 19-yard free kick to cancel out former Minsterman Bradley Fewster's opener for the hosts.

Despite York being the more threatening side in the second half, it looked like the game was heading for a draw until the ball broke for Donaldson in space on the edge of the six-yard box. He steadied himself and, with Whitby keeper Shane Bland guessing and sprawling the wrong way, planted a left-footed finish in the bottom-right corner.

A win to open pre-season is, of course, welcome, but the seasoned professional Donaldson cautioned that victory is not the be all and end all at this stage.

'Donaldo' kicked off his senior career with Hull City in 2002. With almost two decades of experience behind him, he is in a good place to act as a mentor to the younger lads coming through.

"I talk to them all the time in training to help and guide them if I see something I think I can help with," he commented.

"The younger lads have a lot to learn and it's harder for them coming through now.

"If they have experienced players around them who can guide and help them, that's even better for them.

He added: "Any games you play, whether it's in a friendly or in the league, you want to set the right example and win games.

"You can't get away from the fact it's mostly about the fitness and getting that out of it. You can win all your pre-season games and lose your league games so it's about getting that mentality now."

And celebrating among the 523-strong crowd on Saturday were a good few familiar faces from Donaldson's first time with City.

"I was speaking to a few beforehand," he said warmly. "It's made everything a lot easier. Everyone's been welcoming. The most important thing is for me to feel settled in again."