WOKING banked three points in the Dragons Den with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Wrexham on Saturday.
Goals from smoking strike duo Scott Rendell and Dean Morgan sealed the deal in a hotly contested duel in North Wales, with boss Garry Hill (far right) praising a ‘massive three points’ as his side maintained their terrific unbeaten start to the campaign.
“It was always going to be a tough one but we came here with a lot of confidence after being unbeaten in our first five games,” said Hill.
“We never got into our free-flowing football in the first half, which is probably a bit of a compliment with the way the word goes up and down the country. Teams have probably watched us, which I know they [Wrexham] did last week.”
Hill set out his side in the same 3-5-2 style that had devised the 6-1 Dover demolition on Bank Holiday Monday, with Aaron Howe taking the gloves back from injured keeper Jake Cole, who picked up a calf strain in that win, while Mike Cestor came back from injury to take a place on the bench.
But with the Red Dragons breathing down their necks in a keenly contested first half, Hill and assistant Steve Thompson were forced to switch things about to steal the points.
“We changed our formation and changed things around – all credit to the players, they adapted to that,” said Hill. “We started with three at the back like we did against Dover last week but we changed things around going into half time as we didn’t look as solid defensively as we could. But we got through that difficult period and deservedly won the game in the second half.”
Stopper Howe kept Woking in it early on with two fine parries: firstly from a Connor Jennings’ big dipper, before pushing a Ross White header wide.
Rendell took his and Woking’s first real chance against the run of play, curling a cracking 20-yarder out of the reach of keeper Dan Bachmann after good work from Keiran Murtagh and new boy Chris Arthur down the left. Rendell’s early season tally now stands at a superb seven in six games.
“We did well to get Scott in on loan last season and then get him permanently and turn him into a Woking player,” said Hill.
“Forwards like Scotty aren’t about. Last year he got 18 in 34 games, he’s now scored seven in his first six games so if we can keep him fit and give him service, he’ll get goals.”
Despite going in front, Wrexham remained on top and big No9 Louis Moult equalised after the half hour, finishing low across Howe after being fed by Elliott Durrell down the right.
But after a half-time tinker from Hill and Thompson, Woking made more of a splash in a very soggy second half, with ex-Wycombe man Morgan going close with a volley before restoring the Cards’ lead after the hour.
Fed by the ever-industrious Josh Payne in midfield, Morgan cut in from the left touchline and worked his way through a packed but ineffective defence to finish from eight yards out in front of the Racecourse Ground Kop.
Scorer Morgan’s fellow new boy James Clarke almost notched his first Cards goal but saw his hooked effort crash against the crossbar, before Moult almost clawed a late draw back late on, only to see his effort ruled out.
Moult’s stole on to an 80th-minute free-kick from a yard out but his header was disallowed by ref Ian Hussin after the striker strayed beyond the Cards’ line, much to the dismay of the home fans inside the Racecourse Ground.
Up next for Woking come the Imps of Lincoln City on Saturday at Kingfield – a side who, like the Cards, have started on the right foot.
“They’ve had a good solid start overall. I see that they were beaten at home to Torquay but a wounded animal becomes dangerous – they should have a good following,” warned Hill, whose side moved up to fourth place in the table after their Wrexham win.
Their lofty league position is a stark contrast to their fortunes of 12 months ago when a wobbling Woking were entrenched in the relegation places with just four points from their first half a dozen league fixtures.
Woking drew twice with the Imps last season, and three of the last four meetings between the two sides have ended in a stalemate.
Cards did manage to get the better of Lincoln during their first season back in the Conference, however, and they ran out 2-0 winners at Sincil Bank thanks to goals from Kevin Betsy and the now departed Bradley Bubb.