YORK City’s only shot on target was sufficient to maintain the KitKat Crescent club’s unbeaten start to the season at last season’s play-off semi-finalists Torquay.

Home ’keeper Michael Poke had to wait 87 minutes for a goalbound effort from the visitors but, when it arrived, the on-loan Southampton stopper was powerless to prevent Onome Sodje earning the Minstermen a fourth successive draw with a terrific volleyed finish.

Sodje raced on to a headed flick-on by Richard Brodie following Michael Ingham’s punt downfield and, when the ball bounced up invitingly, his belting 15-yard volley sailed over Poke before dipping under the crossbar.

It was the perfect way for Sodje to remind manager Colin Walker of his striking talents, having been left on the bench for the first six games of the new season.

The 20-year-old striker certainly provided a labouring City frontline with an injection of pace and purpose following his 70th-minute introduction.

City’s ploy of spreading five men across the middle of the park was aimed at frustrating a Torquay team who started the season as well-fancied promotion contenders but went into this game on the back of three straight defeats.

It worked to an extent, but lone central striker Daniel McBreen was often an isolated figure with Craig Farrell and Brodie occupying distant wide roles and Ben Wilkinson failing to provide an attacking link from midfield.

The Minstermen’s subsequent failure to hold on to possession in the final third should have been better capitalised on by Torquay, but the Gulls had also managed just one on-target attempt – a first half Roscoe Dsane first-half effort – before substitute Danny Stevens netted with his first touch on 65 minutes. However, having seemingly seen their first ploy to take away a point from Plainmoor fail, Walker decided to go on the offensive after falling behind and the more positive approach provided the intended result.

An uneventful start to the game saw City skipper Mark Greaves head the first chance of the night over from five yards on 14 minutes following Ben Purkiss’ right-wing free-kick. Brodie went closer seconds later when he worked an opening for himself 25 yards from goal, but he bent his powerful left-footed effort inches wide.

Torquay’s first sniff of the vistors’ goal came on 19 minutes, but City ’keeper Michael Ingham was alert to the danger when he smothered at Dsane’s feet after the ball had broken to the former Aldershot striker eight yards out.

Dsane had a better chance to break the deadlock seven minutes later when a David McGurk mistake sent him clear on goal.

But Ingham once more came out on top, diving low to his left to keep out Dsane’s low shot.

At the other end, Mark Robinson sliced well over from 25 yards after a Simon Rusk corner, bizarrely conceded from inside the City half by home winger Wayne Carlisle.

Dsane continued to look the liveliest player on the pitch and his clever overhead lay-off created a chance for Lee Mansell, but the former Oxford full-back dragged his edge-of-the-box effort wide.

Gulls left-winger Mustapha Carayol also fired wide from 25 yards during stoppage time of a dismal first half.

The restart saw little improve, although indecision by Farrell cost his side a rare shot on goal after 54 minutes when he allowed Mark Ellis to make a recovery tackle after being released by McBreen’s headed flick-on.

Torquay boss Paul Buckle decided it was time for a change on 64 minutes, introducing Stevens, and the diminutive winger took about 30 seconds to announce his arrival. Chris Hargreaves cleverly switched play to the right flank and when, City failed to clear Carlisle’s cross, Stevens drilled a low shot into Ingham’s bottom right-hand corner from eight yards.

The Gulls almost doubled their advantage seven minutes later when Purkiss’ sloppy header gifted possession to Hargreaves 25 yards from goal, but the home captain narrowly cleared Ingham’s crossbar.

City boss Colin Walker then introduced Sodje, Niall Henderson and Simon Russell in quick succession and all three players made positive late contributions.

A dangerous Russell cross on 85 minutes was fumbled around his post by a nervous Poke and the St Mary’s rookie’s next touch of the ball saw him picking it out of the back of his net after Sodje found his top right-hand corner with a perfect angled shot.

Match facts

Torquay 1, Stevens 65
York City 1, Sodje 87

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire

Michael Ingham 7
Ben Purkiss 6
Danny Parslow 7
David McGurk 6
Mark Robinson 7
Simon Rusk 7
Mark Greaves 6
Ben Wilkinson 6
Craig Farrell 6
Richard Brodie 6
Daniel McBreen 6

Substitutions: Onome Sodje (for Farrell, 70) Simon Russell (for Wilkinson, 70) Niall Henderson (for Rusk, 73) Subs not used: Mimms, Kelly.

City’s star man: Robinson – completed a solid August with another reliable display.

Torquay: Michael Poke, Lee Mansell, Steve Woods, Chris Robertson, Mark Ellis, Wayne Carlisle, Chris Hargreaves, Lee Hodges, Mustapha Carayol (Danny Stevens, 64), Tim Sills, Roscoe Dsane (Matthew Green, 79). Subs not used: Michael Brough, Elliot Benyon, Nicky Wroe.

Yellow cards: none.

Referee: B Malone.

Rating: made a couple of questionable calls, but generally good.

Attendance: 1,598.

Shot of the match: Sodje’s dipping volley could even prove shot of the season.

Save of the match: The presence Ingham showed in a one-on-one situation to deny Dsane.

Mistake of the match: Carlisle’s comic conceding of a corner from inside City’s half.

City player watch: Mark Greaves

Goal attempts on target: 0
Goal attempts off target: 1
Blocked goal attempts: 0
Passes to own player: 12
Passes to opposition: 5
Crosses to own player: 1
Crosses to opposition: 0
Pass completion rate: 72.2 per cent
Dribbles ball retained: 0
Dribbles ball lost: 3
Dribble completion rate: 0 per cent
Headers: 10
Tackles: 8
Clearances, blocks and interceptions: 5
Fouls won: 0
Fouls conceded: 1
Offsides: 1
Yellow cards: 0

Final summary: Mark Greaves gave a typically hard-working, honest display and made a healthy tally of tackles.

As usual, the City skipper managed to pop up in the six-yard box, but headed the first chance of the game over the Torquay bar.

He was not as influential in his midfield role as in previous matches though.