YORK City new boys Onome Sodje and Chris Beardsley pressed their claims for front-line starting places during the second half of Saturday's 4-3 home defeat to Doncaster Rovers.

Sodje struck twice and Beardsley also found the net to spearhead an excellent revival after both players were introduced with their side trailing 3-0 at the interval.

The second-half appearances of 23-year-old Beardsley have now provided Billy McEwan's men with a strong and positive presence in attack during each of City's first three pre-season friendlies, while Sodje demonstrated against Doncaster that, as well as boasting blistering pace, he has also got an eye for goal.

Prior to their pivotal impacts, however, the Minstermen had chased shadows for long periods of the first half against a Doncaster side being groomed for Championship football and looking infinitely better prepared for the new season than their more-illustrious neighbours Leeds had eight days earlier.

The deft and quick skills of wide men Lewis Guy and Craig Nelthorpe posed City problems from the start, while Brian Stock and Mark Wilson pulled the strings from the middle of the park as the visitors' brand of slick, one-touch football even drew applause from home supporters.

Rovers went ahead in the third minute when a right-wing cross from former Leeds full-back Sam Hird was met by a Bruce Dyer header that looped over the helpless Tom Evans.

Despite Doncaster's dominance, City winger Martyn Woolford remained a threat throughout the half and, on four minutes, he dragged a low shot narrowly wide after skipping past two challenges.

But the visitors doubled their lead on eight minutes when James Hayter fed Guy, whose low cross swept across City's six-yard box before being tapped in at the far post by Nelthorpe.

The home side could have pulled a goal back on 22 minutes when Ben Purkiss' defence-splitting pass released Paul Brayson for a clear run on goal, but the former Newcastle striker overran the ball in trying to round former Scotland goalkeeper Neil Sullivan and the opportunity went begging, leading McEwan to comment: "He will take those chances when he gets fitter."

A late challenge by Mark Robinson on Doncaster's record summer signing Hayter then saw McEwan instruct his left-back "we don't want any injuries".

Doncaster forged further in front on 31 minutes with Hayter starting a move that saw Wilson expertly pick out a perfectly-timed run into the box by Guy, who skipped around Evans and rolled the ball into an empty net.

When the visitors then introduced last season's top scorer Paul Heffernan, first-choice centre-back Adam Lockwood and highly-rated midfield signing Richie Wellens at the break any hope of respite seemed unlikely but a City side, featuring five changes of their own, did manage to turn the tide against all expectations.

First, Sodje's firmly-planted header from an inviting, inswinging Darren Craddock cross on 52 minutes got City on the scoresheet.

Twelve minutes later, Beardsley was equally as clinical with his head after Woolford had waltzed past Paul Green to fire in another fine centre from the left.

Beardsley, playing his former club, then forced substitute Ben Smith into a low save after showing great determination to fire away a shot.

Beardsley also won the free kick that led to Sodje's 72nd-minute equaliser. Quick thinking by Robinson released Woolford for a low cross that was converted by Sodje's right boot eight yards out.

Doncaster took just two minutes to regain the lead though, Heffernan surviving strong offside appeals to finish cooly after being found completely isolated in the home penalty box by a Hird cross.

In injury time, Sodje had a chance to complete his hat-trick but his shot was blocked by Rovers sub Matty Noble.

McEwan lamented Doncaster's second and third goals as poor from his side's perspective and also questioned the validity of Heffernan's winning strike. But he enthused about the crosses that led to City's first two goals and the "bright thinking" which resulted in Sodje's equaliser.

York: Evans (Bartlett 61), Purkiss (Craddock 46), McGurk (Radcliffe 90), Dutton (Jones 46), Robinson (McWilliams 78), Meechan (Turnbull 46), Elliott (Greenwood 61), Panther (D Farrell 78), Woolford (Rhodes 78), C Farrell (Beardsley 46), Brayson (Sodje 46).

Doncaster: Sullivan (Smith 46), Hird (Lockwood 46), Greer (Griffith 65), Aiemda (Fairhurst 78), McDaid (Hird 56), Guy (Green 46), Stock (Noble 81), Wilson (Hardy 78), Nelthorpe (Wellens 46), Dyer (Heffernan 46), Hayter (Boyce 78).

Referee: Michael Oliver (Ashington).

Attendance: 1,247.