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3:00pm - SaturdaySat 11th FebruaryFeb 2017
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Lincoln City
Lincoln City
3 - 2

Woking
Woking

Cards face huge test

Brian Caffarey
8:56am, Thu 9th Feb 2017
Lincoln City v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 11 February 2017

The odds will certainly have to be overturned if the Cards are to get anything out of this game against the league leaders and Emirates FA Cup giant killers. Faint glimmers of hope are that Garry Hill’s side have won their last two away games and that the Imps might just be distracted by their forthcoming 5th Round tie against Burnley. But this match will be a huge test of character for the Cards.

WOKING

The disappointment of the postponement of last Saturday’s home game against Solihull Moors (now re-arranged for next Tuesday, 14 February) was at least slightly assuaged by seeing all Woking’s fellow relegation contenders come to grief, with Maidstone United, Torquay United, North Ferriby and Guiseley all failing to register even a point. So, Woking remain in 19th spot, a point clear of Maidstone in 21st place with a game in hand.

The postponement will at least have given more time for Brian Saah and Nathan Ralph to recover from injury.

For Macauley Bonne the trip to Sincil Bank will be a return to the club whom he joined for a youth loan spell earlier this season. Jake Caprice will no doubt hope that he gets the nod to start against the club for whom he played before joining Woking.

LINCOLN CITY

The Imps’ decision to lure Danny Cowley and his brother, Nicky, away from Braintree Town last summer has already proved to be very astute, with the new management team leading them to the top of the National League table and to a terrific Emirates FA Cup run which has already seen them dispose of Ipswich Town and Brighton and Hove Albion. Lincoln now play Burnley away on 18 February. The Imps are also through to the Quarter-Final of the FA Buildbase Trophy. The Cowleys’ contracts have been extended to 2021.

The Imps’ form has been superb: since the beginning of October, in all competitions, they have won 20 games, drawn five and lost only two – away to Guiseley on Boxing Day and away to Barrow on 24 January. Their home record in the league comprises ten wins, three draws and only two defeats: against Sutton in August and Barrow in September. They head the table, three points ahead of Dagenham and Redbridge with a game in hand.

Danny Cowley, not surprisingly, went back to Braintree as part of his summer team-building, bringing in highly-rated midfielder Alex Woodyard and defender Sam Habergham. Three more important signings were the addition of Nathan Arnold, outstanding for Grimsby Town last season, Dover defender Sean Raggett and former Stevenage striker, Adam Marriott. Just as crucial was Cowley’s successful drive to keep imposing striker Matt Rhead, whom Barrow had tried hard to lure away with a five-figure bid. Other new arrivals included striker Jack Muldoon, previously with Rochdale, and midfielder Taylor Miles. Existing squad members who remained included keeper Paul Farman, midfielders Alan Power and Terry Hawkridge and this season’s skipper, defender Luke Waterfall.

Subsequently, Cowley has brought in England C midfielder Elliot Whitehouse from Nuneaton; Sean Long, a full back on loan from Reading but who had a loan spell at Braintree last season; Joe Ward, a Brighton winger on loan; Josh Ginnelly, a 19-year-old winger on loan from Burnley; and Dayle Southwell, a striker on loan from Wycombe Wanderers. Most intriguingly for Woking fans is his latest loan signing: ex-Card Billy Knott, on loan from Gillingham for the rest of the season, having joined the Gills from Bradford City last summer. Ironically, Billy’s loan spell starts on 11 February!

Theo Robinson, scorer of seven goals in the Imps’ Emirates FA Cup run, has joined Southend United.

GETTING THERE

Sincil Bank Stadium
Lincoln
Lincolnshire
LN5 8LD

Official website: www.redimps.co.uk

By coach

The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this match.

By car

Exit the A1 at sliproad Lincoln A46. Follow the A46 into Lincoln (which leads onto the High Street) and the ground is indicated from there. There is plenty of street parking in the numerous side streets in the Sincil Bank area.

By train

The nearest station is Lincoln Central, which is a 10-15-minute walk from the ground. Trains run from St Pancras International. The 10.29 would get you to Lincoln at 13.19 via a change at Nottingham. The 11.29 is due to arrive at 14.22, again via a change at Nottingham. On the way back, the first train is the 17.25, which, because of a lengthy wait at Nottingham, wouldn’t get you to St Pancras till 20.56. The 18.30 would get you back to London at 21.14.

To get to the ground, turn left out of the station and left again at the main road (High Street) going over the level crossing. Take the seventh turning on the LHS (Scorer Street), and first right into Sincil Bank.

ADMISSION PRICES

Adults: £18
Over 60/Disabled: £13
U18s/18-21 with student card: £7

The club runs an ‘early bird’ ticket purchase arrangement, giving a £2 reduction on adult tickets and £1 on other tickets: see the Lincoln City website for details.

Away supporters are housed in the Stacey West Stand.

LAST TIME WE MET

Woking 0 Lincoln City 3
Vanarama National League
6 August 2016

Opening games of the season can sometimes be misleading but this one proved to predict very accurately the contrasting fortunes ahead for both sides. The Imps looked a formidable outfit and proved far too strong for a Cards side still trying to find its feet.

On a typically baking hot afternoon on the first day of the season, the Imps took the lead in the 28th minute from a smart turn and finish by Adam Marriott, only for the Cards to equalise immediately after the break from substitute Ismail Yakubu. Briefly, the Cards took the game to Lincoln before a poorly-defended counter-attack saw Matt Rhead slot home to restore the Imps’ lead. It then became 3-1 with another goal, from the penalty spot, before Rhead missed his chance of a hat-trick when Michael Poke saved another penalty.

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Ben Gordon (Max Kretzschmar 78), Dennon Lewis (Charlie Penny 68), Keiran Murtagh, Fabio Saraiva (Ismail Yakubu 46), Nathan Ralph, Gozie Ugwu, Zac Ansah

Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall (gk), Chike Kandi

Scorer: Ismail Yakubu 46

Lincoln City: Paul Farman, Bradley Wood, Sam Habergham, Luke Waterfall, Jack Muldoon, Matt Rhead, Adam Marriott (Jonathon Margetts 68), Lee Beevers, Jamie McCombe, Nathan Arnold (Miles Taylor 83) (Elliot Hodge 90 + 3), Alex Woodyard

Unused substitutes: Callum Howe, Sean Raggett

Scorers: Adam Marriott 28, Matt Rhead 60 and 73(pen)

Attendance: 1592

COMING UP

The Cards have two home games coming up in quick succession. First, on Tuesday 14 February, is the re-arranged fixture against Solihull Moors. (Why not take advantage of the Valentine's Day special offer in the Geoff Chapple Lounge?) Then, on the following Saturday (18 February) the Cards are at home to Southport, in a crucial ‘six pointer’. Make sure the dates are in your diary!


Come on, you Cards!






Spirited Cards push league leaders all the way

Ian Toft
12:00am, Sat 11th Feb 2017
Lincoln City 3 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
11th February 2017

Woking produced a gutsy performance full of effort against the National League leaders. Unfortunately they fell narrowly short in taking anything away from an entertaining game at Sincil Bank.

Matt Rhead was again the thorn in the Cards side. After trading early goals with the Cards Gozie Ugwu, he struck another in the second half which added to an unfortunate Terell Thomas own goal. This had seemingly put the tie beyond Woking. However Saraiva’s cool penalty took the tie down to the end and the Cards will feel that on another day they could have grabbed a deserved equaliser.

Lincoln have been grabbing the headlines nationally, after an impressive FA cup run which had seen them dispatch two teams from the Championship, and were now preparing for a televised visit to Premier League Burnley next Saturday. They were also sitting top of the National League and still battling in the FA Trophy. With these distractions in mind the Cards arrived in the cathedral city hoping to spring a surprise on the high flying league leaders.

Garry Hill made just one change to the side that had gone down to Tranmere Rovers in the previous game. On-loan returnee Chris Arthur was given his first start in place of Charlie Carter to give more balance to the backline against what would be likely be a formidable Imps attack.

This backline was called into action in the early stage. A knock down by Rhead set Southwell on his way. Having run forwards his low shot dragged to the left of Poke’s post. However this served as a warning to what was to follow. In the 9th minute, Arnold back-heeled to put his marker off balance. This created the space to spread the ball out wide to Wood. His first-time cross arched into the danger area deep within the penalty box and Rhead was able to out-muscle his marker to comfortably head into the top corner with Poke helpless to make the save.

However, with the hosts still celebrating their lead, Woking hit back immediately. A Saraiva free kick from outside of the penalty area was floated into the box. With the cross having evaded the immediate runners Ugwu timed his run perfectly at the back of the pack to nod the ball down and across Farman to level the scores and silence the large home crowd.

Three minutes later a very similar move for the Cards almost produced the same outcome. Another Saraiva free-kick was again expected to be played towards the pack of players but this time he opted to shoot for the bottom corner. Farman was able to scramble across and tip the ball around his post.

An even better chance was to come minutes later when Caprice lost his marker and was able to deliver a fine low cross which evaded the Lincoln backline. It fell to Bonne at the back post who, perhaps not realising the space and time he had, snatched at the shot and put it wide of the post. Sensing how close they had come to falling behind this served as a catalyst to the home side to turn up the pressure on their visitors.

Kane Ferdinand picked up an early booking for pulling back when the hosts looked to have a breakaway on. Then a tricky cross from Knott wrong-footed most of the Cards defence. Fortunately Thomas managed to improvise and correct his balance to scramble clear with Rhead waiting as the last man over his shoulder.

The danger was not heeded and in the 22nd minute another cross was floated into the Cards penalty area. Yakubu had been standing up well to the physical style of Rhead but on this occasion appeared to get on the wrong side of his marker. As both players weight took each over down the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick to the Imps and issuing a booking to Yakubu. Though Dayle Southwell’s penalty was struck powerfully it appeared to be far too close to Michael Poke who beat the shot away from the goal. The resulting scramble led to the ball being kicked away for a corner. This pressure continued and from the resulting corner Southwell found himself unmarked six yards out. Unable to get over the cross his connection sent the ball high over the crossbar.

As the first half progressed Lincoln continued to press in search of restoring their lead. As the ball was played across the edge of the penalty box Caprice moved to intercept the ball but lost his balance. This enabled Arnold to run towards goal. His rasping shot was cleanly hit but the power of the connection narrowly curved it wide of the far post. Minutes later another cross from Habergham was nodded away by the Cards defence but only into the path of Knott. The ex-Woking man hit a powerful shot through traffic. However Poke was aware of the danger to be able to get a strong punch of the ball away from his goal.

Woking had one last chance to take a half time lead. Saraiva curled another free kick into the penalty area. This was redirected by a crowd of players and it fell to Jones looking to pick up the rebound. However he could only head the ball straight at Farman.

Half Time: Lincoln City 1 Woking 1

The second half began with Woking now attacking the Bridge McFarland stand. However it would be at the Stacey West end of the ground to which they were defending that the initial action would take place.

Josh Ginnelly who had been introduced as a half time substitute made an immediate impact on the game. As he drove forward there appeared no obvious evidence of danger for the Cards backline. As he pulled the trigger 20 yards out his shot appeared to be cutting outside of the far post. Unfortunately Thomas appeared unaware of its direction and instinctively stuck a foot out to attempt to slow the pace of the ball. This merely changed the direction of the shot and it crept inside the back post to restore the Imps lead.

Another attack by the hosts in the 58th minute could have extended the lead as a corner by Habergham was diverted into the box by Waterfall. Southwell with his back to goal was able to twist on the far post but could only drill his shot against the woodwork with Poke covering the tight angle.

You could argue that the outcome of the game was heavily influenced by the events of the following two minutes. Having survived the previous scare Woking pushed forward through Caprice. A beautifully delivered ball was met by Ugwu who appeared to beat his man and comfortably head past Farman into the net. However this was immediately ruled out by referee Sam Allison for an infringement much to the disappointment of travelling Cards supporters.

From the resulting free kick Lincoln advanced the ball forwards until it eventually reached Rhead at the top of the pitch. He skilfully dummied Arthur and from there had the composure to pass the ball into the far corner of the goal and extend the hosts lead.

To the Cards credit this unfortunate turn of events only served to rally the team into continuing to attack the hosts. A through ball from Jones sent Murtagh rushing forward into the penalty area. As he tumbled with his man hopes of a penalty were extinguished when the referee ruled against the Cards midfielder. That would be Murtagh’s last action as he and Ferdinand made way for Carter and Kretzschmar in what Garry Hill hoped would be one last push for something out of the game.

Kretzschmar in particular appeared to have an immediate impact. Arthur’s through ball fed the Cards midfielder and his first time shot was palmed away by Farman. From the resulting play Kretzschmar was bundled over and referee Allison had no hesitation in awarding Woking a penalty. Fabio Saraiva stepped up and confidently slotted his penalty kick beyond Farman to bring the Cards back within one goal of the hosts.

Though Woking continued to push forward for the equaliser in the remaining stages it appeared to be that the hosts would hold out for all three points. However a late rally led to one last effort as Kretzschmar was sent clear. Though his shot initially looked to be troubling Farman it gently rose above the crossbar. Five added minutes could not create another opportunity and the hosts held out for another three points towards their promotion push.

For those 64 Cards fans in attendance, this must go down as one of the most entertaining games of the season - alas, one with no return of points. However if Woking can repeat this kind of performance in the forthcoming home battles against Solihull Moors and Southport then there deserves to be an optimism that they will begin to move up the table in the weeks to come.


Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Ismail Yakubu (Luke Kandi 82), Keiran Murtagh (Charlie Carter 67), Gozie Ugwu, Fabio Saraiva, Kane Ferdinand (Max Kretzschmar 71), Macauley Bonne, Chris Arthur

Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Dennon Lewis

Goals: Ugwu (11), Saraiva (75 Pen)

Yellow Cards: Yakubu, Ferdinand

Lincoln: Paul Farman, Bradley Wood, Sam Habergham, Luke Waterfall, Matt Rhead, Terry Hawkridge (Josh Ginnelly 46), Sean Raggett, Nathan Arnold, Alex Woodyard, Dayle Southwell (Elliott Whitehouse 69), Billy Knott (Alan Power 76)

Unused subs: Adam Marriott, Sean Long

Goals: Rhead (9, 60), Thomas (51 og)

Yellow Card: Ginnelly

My MOTM: Fabio Saraiva: Was at the heart of every Cards effort to push forward and added to his season’s tally with a goal and an assist. Woking will rely on Saraiva’s endeavour to encourage the team forward in their bid for National League survival over the forthcoming weeks.

Referee: Sam Allison

Attendance: 5,553
Lincoln City LINEUP
WOKING LINEUP
1Michael Poke
2Jake Caprice
26Chris Arthur
3Terell Thomas
4Joey Jones
6Ismail Yakubu ('82)
8Keiran Murtagh ('67)
14Fabio Saraiva
22Kane Ferdinand ('71)
9Gozie Ugwu
23Macauley Bonne
BENCH
18Brandon Hall
16Dennon Lewis
12Charlie Carter ('67)
15Max Kretzschmar ('71)
21Chike Kandi ('82)

Lincoln City 3 - 2 Woking (Garry Hill Interview)

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