Woking 1 Imps 3There were four debutants in the City starting line-up as the Danny Cowley era started at Woking's Kingfield Stadium. Sam Habergham, Adam Marriott, Nathan Arnold and Alex Woodyard were the aforementioned quartet whilst three more new faces, namely Jonny Margetts, Taylor Miles and Sean Raggett were on the bench.
Glorious August sunshine greeted the two teams as they were led out of the tunnel by referee Joe Johnson and once the two captains completed the pre-match honours - City skippered by Jamie McCombe - play got underway with Woking kicking off.
The Imps were the first to press with a second minute corner following a slip by ex-City man Jake Caprice ending with home stopper Michael Poke claiming a Bradley Wood header.
Four minutes later Arnold fired a 25-yard drive just over and in the eleventh minute a break in play due to knock to Woking's Kieran Murtagh gave the players the chance to to get some fluids on board.
When play resumed, a sweeping City attack involving Marriott and Arnold ended with Woodyard fizzing a drive inches over the bar; appeals for a Poke tip-over falling on deaf ears afterwards. At the other end Luke Waterfall got in a great block before the hosts won a corner. This ended with a push in the box and a City free-kick.
City attacked again with a deflected Wood shot going behind for a second City corner but before this could be taken, Murtagh needed more attention, this time to his face. When it was, Arnold picked out Wood but the latter headed over when he should have done better.
Arnold fired a low drive wide of the target before another City corner as Poke tipped over a header from his colleague Joey Jones following a long throw into the box was dealt with by the Woking defence.
City's pressure paid off in the 27th minute when, after Matt Rhead knocked down a deep Paul Farman free-kick, there was ADAM MARRIOTT who took a touch, twisted past his marker and drilled in a clinical left-footed finish low past Poke.
The lead was nothing more than the Imps deserved and the hosts' frustrations became apparent seven minutes later when Jones was booked for a crude challenge on Wood.
After City wasted a free-kick given for a trip on Muldoon, Woking pieced together their best move of the match but Paul Farman was there to pull off a superb save to deny the overlapping Ben Gordon.
As four additional minutes approached Murtagh was inches away from heading past his own stopper but saw his effort go out for a City corner which was cleared and at the other end Farman easily claimed a low Caprice free-kick.
HT: WOKING 0 IMPS 1
Whilst the Imps emerged unchanged for the start of the second half, the hosts made a change with Ismail Yakubu coming on for Fabio Saraiva.
Woking were quickly out of the traps following the restart and when a Nathan Ralph corner was flicked on the near post, there was substitute Yakubu to prod home from close range with his first touch.
City weathered some more pressure before Marriott was denied by Poke after Rhead beat his marker in the air. At the other end a tug on Chigozie Ugwu's shirt earned McCombe a yellow card.
On the hour mark Poke was at full stretch to claim Rhead's flicked header from Habergham's long throw but the home keeper was picking the ball out of his net shortly afterwards when a quick Woodyard free-kick released Muldoon down the right. He beat his man, looked up and picked out MATT RHEAD who calmly passed the ball past Poke from eight yards out.
Five minutes later City had a great chance but Marriott sliced his effort wide following good pressure by Muldoon. Shortly afterwards Marriott was replaced by Jonny Margetts for City and Charlie Penny came on for Dennon Lewis for Woking.
With City's tails up McCombe had a header from an Arnold corner saved by Poke and although Luke Waterfall was booked following a foul, City were on the attack again in the 71st minute with Rhead winning a free-kick 25 yards out.
Arnold set his sights from the dead ball situation and was denied by a superb Poke save but when the ball ran free, Margetts took a touch before being bundled to the floor. Referee Johnson was quick to point to the spot and up stepped MATT RHEAD to bag his second of the afternoon.
Habergham joined McCombe and Waterfall in the book for delaying the taking of a 76th minute throw-in and after Max Kretzschmar replaced Ben Gordon for the hosts, a surging run forward from Wood ended with him being bundled over by Saah. Referee Johnson was up with play and, after pointing to the spot, booked the Woking centre-back. Rhead missed out on his hat-trick though as Poke flung himself full length to tip his penalty behind.
Taylor Miles replaced Nathan Arnold in the 83rd minute and his first touch saw him pick up a booking after he kicked the ball away after Woking were awarded a free-kick.
Five minutes later Margetts fired inches wide after getting on the end of a Habergham cross and in the first of five added minutes Miles looked to be in some discomfort after coming off worse in a block tackle with Penny. Elliot Hodge came on as his replacement.
FT: WOKING 1 IMPS 3
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Bradley WOOD
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
7 Jack MULDOON
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Adam MARRIOTT
18 Lee BEEVERS
27 Jamie McCOMBE
28 Nathan ARNOLD
30 Alex WOODYARD
6 Callum HOWE
13 Jonny MARGETTS (for MARRIOTT 67)
14 Taylor MILES (for ARNOLD 83)
17 Elliot HODGE (for MILES 90+3)
25 Sean RAGGETT
GOALS: MARRIOTT (27), RHEAD (60, 72 pen)
BOOKINGS: McCOMBE (56), WATERFALL (70), HABERGHAM (76), MILES (83)
1 Michael POKE
2 Jake CAPRICE
3 Ben GORDON
4 Joey JONES
5 Brian SAAH
8 Kieran MURTAGH
9 Chigozie UGWU
10 Zak ANSAH
11 Nathan RALPH
14 Fabio SARAIVA
16 Dennon LEWIS
6 Ismail YAKUBU (for SARAIVA h/t)
7 Charlie PENNY
15 Max KRETZSCHMAR (for GORDON 78)
18 Brandon HALL
21 Luke KANDI
BOOKINGS: JONES (35), SAAH (79)
GOAL: YAKUBU (47)
REFEREE: Joe Johnson
ASSISTANTS: Aaron Moody & Richard Morris
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Mike Desborough
ATTENDANCE: 1,592 (407 City supporters)