TYLER Smith came off the bench to salvage a point for a rusty-looking City at Valley Parade.

It was not the triumphant return to action that Graham Alexander had hoped for after his side’s recent inactivity.

But a late equaliser from sub Smith against his former club at least made sure they finished with something from a feisty Yorkshire derby which saw nine bookings – including yellow cards for both managers.

It was Smith’s first league goal since the reverse fixture just before Christmas; a timely boost for the striker and his team on a difficult night.

The Bantams had been frustrated spectators for the past couple of weeks, kicking their heels as everyone else carried on around them.

Alexander may have been nominated for manager of the month for City’s fab February – but it had been 17 days since they had last kicked a ball in anger in the league.

The enforced delay did give Tyreik Wright enough time to get back up to speed for only the second start of his loan.

The other changes from the last outing – their EFL Trophy heartbreak against Wycombe a fortnight before - saw the obvious return of Sam Walker and Andy Cook.

Richie Smallwood sat out the second game of his ban, at the third attempt, so Kevin McDonald was partnered in the middle by Clarke Oduor.

Alex Gilliead, leading the side in Smallwood’s absence, remained at left wing-back.

All things considered, the pitch didn’t look too bad as a couple of dry days since Saturday’s postponement had eased the issues.

But it was still brave of the visitors to play out from the back on the unpredictable surface.

Doncaster began brightly and forced three early corners without concerning Walker.

But there was a genuine scare on 19 minutes after Hakeeb Adelakun, often a thorn in City’s side, was dragged back by Oduor as he charged towards goal.

The on-loan Lincoln winger took the free-kick which deflected off the wall into the box, where Owen Bailey kept it alive for a Joe Ironside snapshot that looked goal-bound until it took a City touch to take it past the post.

City had not got into their stride but then nearly struck from their first attack of note.

Gilliead slipped past Luke Molyneux and drilled a low cross that Wright met with a first-time stab just wide from eight yards.

Sam Stubbs and Harrison Biggins both went down after a nasty-looking head clash on the touchline which saw the City defender booked when he got back on his feet.

Referee Leigh Doughty had flashed his yellow card four times in just over half an hour – three of them to the Bantams much to the crowd’s growing frustration.

Cook seized on a loose ball on halfway and held off three blue shirts to poke a shot straight at keeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala.

Donny had overtaken City on the card by the break as the busy Doughty took three more names – including visiting boss Grant McCann for protesting.

But McCann had reason to cheer as his side then grabbed the lead. Bailey played in Molyneux from a long free-kick from Lo-Tutala and he slotted the ball past Walker – the first league goal City had conceded since Swindon.

It looked a very tight call and added to the angst in the stand – and there were boos directed towards the ref when the half-time whistle sounded.

City had plenty of work to do and McDonald set up Wright for a cross-shot that Lo-Tutala pushed away at the near post.

But Doncaster’s confidence was evident as Biggins tried to catch Walker off his line with an effort from just inside his own half.

Molyneux then delivered a delicious cross just beyond the stretching Ironside.

Changes were needed and Alexander made a triple switch just after the hour with Lewis Richards, Tyler Smith and Adam Wilson summoned.

It was Wilson’s first action since November and he looked eager to get on the ball.

Richards, who slotted into his natural left-sided role, launched an ambitious long-range effort that flew high and wide.

Harry Chapman replaced Stubbs for the last 15 minutes as City tried to increase their attacking options.

But the fact that the only noise was coming from the travelling fans showed that there was no hint of an imminent fightback.

And Doncaster were close to a second when left back James Maxwell’s fizzing drive was tipped over the bar by Walker.

Cook met a Richards cross with a looping header that was saved by Lo-Tutala – before City got the leveller.

Oduor switched the play to Richards who fed Chapman to take on and beat his man, sending in a low cross which Smith superbly lifted over the keeper at the near post.

There was still enough left for Lo-Tutala to finally see yellow for time-wasting and Alexander, who had slipped back down to the touchline in the second half, to follow him into the book for having his say about it to the fourth official.