Lincoln City 1
SATISFIED Cards fans will have raised a glass on Saturday evening to three goals and three welcome points garnered against 10-man Lincoln City at Kingfield.
The hot topic of discussion to accompany those well-earned weekend libations for Woking fans was whether their club’s glass is half full or half empty at the moment.
It is the perennial question for fans whose teams are tucked in the mid-table plain: is a safe but unspectacular season better than a boom and bust attempt at promotion?
On this evidence of their side’s upbeat display against one of this season’s surprise National League challengers Cards fans will think their flagons have been topped up just at the right time as we swing into the busy Christmas period.
Kingfield regulars are also in the midst of formalising their views on the club’s off-field matters this season as well: to embrace news of the potential takeover or not to embrace, that is the question. But all the while Woking’s players are putting in vibrant performances of the kind they did against Lincoln talk on the terraces will focus on skill rather than shareholders.
Home boss Garry Hill made one enforced change to his starting XI as Jake Caprice came in to line-up against his former club at right full-back. Left-sided defender Chris Arthur missed out with a hamstring twinge meaning, as it turned out, a seamless switch across the back four for versatile Norwich City loan youngster Cameron Norman.
Among the ranks for the visitors were former Conference league-winning duo Rhead and Lee Beevers. Stocky forward Rhead, now 31, is City’s 12-goal (now 13-goal) top-scorer this term, while Welsh full-back Beevers, 32, like Rhead is a former Conference champion with Mansfield Town.
Although, the latter of Imps’ experienced duo was red-carded for a late moment of madness – belying his years in the game – as he took aim with a stamp on John Goddard as Cards’ playmaker sought to run down the clock by the corner flag in stoppage time.
Rewind the referee’s watch 90 minutes and the sides were greeted with a swirling wind inside Kingfield at kick-off – although to their credit all 20 outfield players opted for short sleeves.
Making the most of when the stiff breeze turned in their favour towards the Kingfield Road End, the home side were in front with just six minutes gone courtesy of Holman’s first of the afternoon.
A Goddard corner was half-cleared and returned back towards the yellow-shirted City masses. Goddard crept in unnoticed on the blind side of Bradley Wood to centre from the left for Holman to control and dispatch coolly from six yards out.
It was a strike which the hosts opening had fully merited, with the likes of midfielder Matt Robinson, Bruno Andrade and Holman taking the game to a surprisingly timid Lincoln rearguard – much to the dismay of boss Chris Moyses who, prior to Saturday, had overseen a rise up to fourth place in the league table.
Lincoln are one many former Football League ‘giants’ adjusting to life in the Non-League game but, their big name aside, are one of the teams Woking would have fancied themselves to finish above before the big kick-off back in August.
Indeed, Cards boss Hill has an unbeaten record against the men from Sincil Bank during his near five-years at Kingfield, and, speaking post-match said that he was happy with how his improving side had taken the game to City from the off this time around.
“It’s a big factor and a big benefit to us when we get the first goal,” he said. “I don’t think they could live with our mobility and one-touch football.”
That promising start had almost taken the Cards over the hill by the half-time break as Quigley netted the second of the afternoon – and his second goal in his loan spell which, as with all of the six borrowed players in Hill’s squad, runs until January 2.
On-song winger Andrade was the man to notch his tenth assist of the campaign as he whipped a devilish ball in from the right flank for rangy target man Quigley to bring down and smash home from close range, a la Holman.
The interval brought only momentary relief for a punch-drunk Lincoln side; Holman rattling the inside of goalkeeper Paul Farman’s post with a low drilled left-footed effort after the restart to conclude a lightening counter-attack from inside the Woking half.
Hitman Holman’s temporary boss Hill and a wowed Kingfield crowd will be hoping that the striker’s parent club Colchester United will be open to an extension of his current stay.
In this kind of form – with 10 league goals already this season, and five in his last four outings – Holman could be the man to help salvage something from the second half of a difficult season in GU22.
Full of confidence – helped by able support from Quigley and Andrade – Holman wasn’t to be denied his brace as he stole in at the near post to slam in another precision centre from the Portuguese winger.
A three-goal cushion saw the hosts take their foot off the pedal a touch, allowing Rhead to steal in with a looping header to net a consolation goal in the 76th minute.
A couple of close efforts from midfielder Matt Sparrow almost offered the away side a chance back in late on. The final drama was reserved for City full-back Beevers who, drained of energy by the marauding Andrade, took out his frustration with a blatant stamp on Goddard in front of the referee’s assistant – and duly made his way for an early bath.
The victory moved Woking up to their highest league position (11th) since September and, possibly, leaves fans to gaze up the table.