Cards face huge test
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 Hillâ€™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.
The disappointment of the postponement of last Saturdayâ€™s home game against Solihull Moors (now re-arranged for next Tuesday, 14 February) was at least slightly assuaged by seeing all Wokingâ€™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.
The Impsâ€™ 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 Cowleysâ€™ contracts have been extended to 2021.
The Impsâ€™ form has been superb: since the beginning of October, in all competitions, they have won 20 games, drawn five and lost only two â€“ 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 Cowleyâ€™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 seasonâ€™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, Billyâ€™s loan spell starts on 11 February!
Theo Robinson, scorer of seven goals in the Impsâ€™ Emirates FA Cup run, has joined Southend United.
Sincil Bank Stadium
Official website: www.redimps.co.uk
The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this match.
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.
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, wouldnâ€™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.
Over 60/Disabled: Â£13
U18s/18-21 with student card: Â£7
The club runs an â€˜early birdâ€™ ticket purchase arrangement, giving a Â£2 reduction on adult tickets and Â£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 Impsâ€™ 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)
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 â€˜six pointerâ€™. Make sure the dates are in your diary!
Come on, you Cards!