Luke Waterfall’s bullet header on the stroke of half time was enough for Lincoln City to beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 at a wet and windy Sincil Bank.
City made two changes to the team that started at Aldershot on Wednesday night with first choice goalkeeper Paul Farman returning from injury and Liam Hearn coming back in for Kyle Wootton.
Hearn was immediately involved when he latched onto a header from Lee Beevers to fire into the side netting after only 15 seconds.
However, it was the visitors who went on to enjoy the lion’s share of territory and chances in the first half with former Imps men Ben Tomlinson and Gary Taylor-Fletcher at the heart of most of their better moves.
The latter and Andy Mangan flicked on a long goal kick from Scott Davies to James Norwood who fired a left footed shot narrowly wide of the far post on 20 minutes.
Just minutes later, Tomlinson, operating off the right flank, threaded a ball into the penalty area for Mangan but he couldn’t connect and Farman was able to gather easily.
Farman was tested more thoroughly on 43 minutes as he was forced to palm away a low 25 yard strike from Jay Harris.
When City struck a minute later, it was against the run of play. Waterfall towered above the Rovers defence to head home Greg Tempest’s corner on the edge of the six yard box.
Tranmere created two more clear opportunities in the opening two minutes of the second half. Norwood skewed a shot wide from Steven Jennings’ by-line cut back and Tomlinson could only roll his effort tamely into the grateful arms of Farman following a mazy run from Taylor-Fletcher.
The Imps responded to the warnings and their control of the game grew as the half progressed. Jack Muldoon twice came close to doubling the lead, first with a low drive on 52 minutes and then a stinging shot on 79 minutes but both efforts were well saved by Davies.
Tranmere’s hopes of snatching an equaliser were gradually reduced to a few optimistic free kicks from Mangan but Farman’s handling in the challenging conditions was secure.
With most of their promotion rivals also winning, City were able to hold on and claim three vital points which moves them to within one point of the National League play-off places.
After the match, Lincoln City assistant manager Grant Brown spoke of his delight at how the team has responded to last weekend’s FA Cup exit.
He said: “You’re obviously going to be a little bit fatigued with today being the third game in six days.
“It’s vitally important that you get your noses in front, it gives you something to defend – we had something to hang on to and the lads defended it well.”
Full-time: Lincoln City 1-0 Tranmere Rovers