Lincoln City 2
“A VICTORY is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers,” a great Bard once wrote.
As tenuous a Shakespearean link as that may be – on the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death – Cards fans certainly felt their side had banked a ‘six-pointer’ of a win over mid-table rivals Lincoln City courtesy of a winner three minutes from time from the returning John Goddard.
Top scorer Goddard (with 19 goals in all competitions) proved the protagonist in this latest chapter of the Woking story – and is sure to pick up a bounty of silverware come the end of season awards ceremony.
After three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, Goddard rejoined Garry Hill’s squad for the first time in four games.
The sight of Hill’s playmaker warming up with his team-mates pre-match was enough to raise a cheer from the away section on a gloriously bright spring day at Sincil Bank.
The re-inclusion of Goddard was the sole change to Woking’s match day 16 after the 3-1 midweek reverse to Grimsby Town.
Meanwhile, on a day to celebrate all things Shakespeare, the omission of Greg Tempest from the City teamsheet came as something of a disappointment for the Imps’ final home fixture of the season. Indeed, Imps officials used the occasion to award their season’s prizes before kick-off – defender Bradley Wood picked out as their man of the year.
Formalities dispensed of, the blast of the referee’s whistle signalled a lively opening to proceedings – the hosts looking to start on the front foot through creator-in-chief, Terry Hawkridge (11 assists this season), who tried his luck with a dipping effort from range.
For the Woking defence, it was a case of riding out the early City storm and looking to strike on the counter attack through speed merchants Bruno Andrade and former Lincoln full-back Jake Caprice.
With his player of the season trophy safely in the locker, long-throw specialist Wood was asking questions of Cards’ central defensive pairing of Brian Saah and Cameron Norman; 19-goal Lincoln top scorer Matt Rhead – scorer of a consolation when Woking ran out 3-1 winners in their last meeting – the main target for the set-piece missiles.
Meanwhile, man of the match from the previous Saturday’s win on the road at Forest Green Rovers, Keiran Murtagh was snapping into challenges in the heart of midfield – perhaps on a mission to settle a score with City’s Lee Beevers who was sent off for a ‘body slam’ on Goddard in December’s tussle at Kingfield.
But it was from enforcer to scorer for Cards’ Antigua & Barbuda international Murtagh, who opened the scoring against the run of play in the 19th minute.
A corner from the right-hand side by Matt Butcher soared over most in a packed penalty area, but not Murtagh who thundered a header in off the underside of Paul Farman’s crossbar.
The cheers from the away end of the grand old ground were soon drowning out the beat of the incessant home drummer when, just two minutes later, Andrade finished off a lightening Caprice counter to double Woking’s advantage.
Imps boss Chris Moyses was clearly in agreement with opposite number Hill that attack was the best form of defence as George Maris sent a skidding shot across the bows, while Jack Muldoon was smothered out of a one-on-one chance smartly by Jake Cole.
The first period closed in feisty fashion as Matt Robinson collected a caution for his late challenge on Wood, while Murtagh and Beevers continued their ongoing battle to test the patience of the officials.
With the home ranks riled by what they saw as Cards’ over-commitment – and just 45 minutes left to send their fans away for the summer satisfied – Moyses’ half-time team talk was almost written for him. Whatever was said in the dressing room certainly did the trick as, incredibly, the hosts had levelled things up within three minutes of the restart – targetman Rhead’s close range header was followed just seconds later by a rocket of a strike from the left boot of an unerring Muldoon.
Sensing an unlikely comeback win, the Imps added some extra devil to their game – Wood and Cards’ forward Danny Carr both having their names taken for a clash.
Knowing that all three points would move Woking to within three points of City – and a possible top-half finish in the final National League standings with one match to go – Goddard returned with 20 minutes remaining.
And rather than frittering points away on their travels – as they have at Southport and Welling United recently – this was to be Goddard’s day. Slipped in by Robinson, it was as if Woking’s No11 had never been away as he coolly slotted between Farman’s legs to put the seal on a memorable return to action with just three minutes remaining.