New boss Gary Simpson included loan signings Nat Brown and Tony Diagne in the starting line-up for this Blue Square Bet Premier game against Woking at Kingfield Stadium. Brown replaced Scott Garner in the centre of defence whilst Diagne came in for Nicky Nicolau at left-back. Adam Smith, meanwhile, came in for Jake Jones on the left.
Woking got the game underway and were quickly on the offensive with a deflected Mark Ricketts effort leading to a corner in the first minute. Ex-Imp John Nutter took the flag-kick deep and there to meet his delivery was centre-back Brett Johnson who beat Paul Farman to the ball before planting a firm header into the back of the net.
City's reponse was quick with Smith skinning his marker only to see his cross-cum-shot hit the bar before bouncing kindly for the hosts whilst at the other end Kevin Betsy sprinted forward before slicing a long-range effort well over the bar.
Tom Miller felt the full force of a Mike Cestor challenge in the 12th minute when he was left clutching his head after going for a bouncing ball midway inside the Woking half. Five minutes after Miller returned following treatment, a foul on Bradley Bubb by Smith gave Nutter the chance to whip in a free-kick which saw the ball fly straight out of play for a goal-kick.
Jake Sheridan and Alan Power both had efforts charged down as the Imps pressed for a leveller and that equaliser deservedly came along in the 25th minute when good work from Smith saw him create space for a cross and when he swung the ball into the mix, up rose Vadaine Oliver who saw his header hit the back of the net via the inside of the left-hand upright.
Woking's response saw a Nutter corner cause more problems but Paul Turnbull was well positioned on the line to clear to safety. Shortly afterwards Miller got in a great block to deny Jack Parkinson a shot at goal.
At the other end a push on Oliver by Joe McNerney forced the home side to defend a free-kick before another City set-piece, taken again by Power, was headed a foot over by Andrew Boyce. Oliver then nodded a Turnbull free-kick but saw his effort go straight at home stopper Seb Brown.
City kept pressing forward with Diagne having a shot cleared off the line before Smith appeared to be dragged to the floor in the box only for referee Adam Bromley to spot nothing untoward and only awarded a goal-kick.
A rare Woking attack ended up seeing Betsy drill a low effort just wide from 20 yards whilst debutant Diagne picked up a 43rd minute caution for what referee Bromley deemed to be persistent infringement.
The half ended following a solitary extra minute of play.
HT: Woking 1 Imps 1
Ex-Imp Gavin McCallum replaced Brett Johnson ahead of the start of the second half with Cestor dropping back to centre-back allowing McCallum to start wide on the left.
The first effort following the restart came City's way with Oliver testing Brown with a low effort following a Smith knock-down into his path. A knock to Mo Fofana's face then brought about a break in play with the Frenchman grounded on the half-way line.
With tackles starting to fly in, Power was left grounded follwing a late challenge in midfield and after this one went unpunished, Turnbull picked up a booking following a tangle of feet with McCallum. This free-kick ended up seeing Jayden Stockley penalised for a push before he saw his effort crash against the bar.
City's response saw them force their first corner of the game but Oliver couldn't get enough purchase on Power's deep delivery and play restarted with a goal-kick to the hosts. Miller then picked out Smith but he was denied by a fine Brown save at his near post.
Woking won their third corner of the game with just less than 20 minutes remaining but Turnbull rose well to clear his lines. At the other end Power picked out Oliver with a free-kick but the striker couldn't get over the ball and directed his header over.
With a quarter of an hour remaining Farman produced a superb save to keep out a rasping Bubb volley with the resultant corner going straight out of play. Five minutes later Betsy was cautioned for dissent after a free-kick went against his side.
Brett Williams for Jayden Stockley was Woking's second change and this brought about a spell of home pressure with McCallum sprinting down the flank before the move ended up seeing Williams have a shot deflect wide for a corner which was duly claimed by Farman.
A mistimed challenge on Nutter earned Miller a last minute booking before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of two minutes were to be added on. These passed without further incident so it ended up being a drawing start for Gary Simpson on his return to the Club.
FT: Woking 1 Imps 1
City: Paul Farman, Tom Miller, Andrew Boyce, Nat Brown, Tony Diagne, Paul Turnbull, Mamadou Fofana, Adam Smith, Jake Sheridan, Alan Power, Vadaine Oliver.
ssubs: Scott Garner, Jamie Taylor, Craig Hobson, Colin Larkin, David Preece.
goals: Oliver (25)
bookings: Diagne (43), Turnbull (57), Miller (90)
Woking: Seb Brown, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Bradley Bubb, Kevin Betsy, Brett Johnson, Jayden Stockley, John Nutter.
subs: Brett Williams (for Stockley 82), Gavin McCallum (for Johnson h/t), Josh Griffiths, George Frith, Elvijs Putnins.
goals: Johnson (2)
bookings: Betsy (80)
Referee: Adam Bromley
Assistants: Ashvin Degnarain, Sam Purkiss
Fourth Official: Lee Marshallsay
Attendance: 1,766 (193 City supporters)