There were three changes to the City starting line-up for this Boxing Day home game against Alfreton Town with Nat Brown, Arnaud Mendy and Conner Robinson all recalled at the expense of Tom Miller, Jon Nolan and Alan Power. Whilst Miller and Nolan were both absent through injury, Power found himself on the bench.
City kicked off and were the first to press with Delano Sam-Yorke sprinting down the left before squaring for Robinson who was crowded out as he prepared to pull the trigger.
It was a bright start from the Imps as they spent the opening five minutes camped in the Alfreton half and this was rewarded when, after Charlee Adams was tripped by Tom Shaw, Sean Newton curled in a peach of a free-kick and there to power home a header was HAMZA BENCHERIF for a deserved opener.
City were happy to let Alfreton have some possession following this goal but Paul Farman was untroubled between the sticks. The first corner of the game saw Shaw's delivery go straight out for a throw-in whilst a second was cleared by Adams.
A quiet spell ensued before Sam-Yorke and Tyrell Waite combined to win the Imps first corner midway through the half but Newton's delivery was headed clear by Bradley Wood. A great cross from Marcus Marshall was then headed away as Sam-Yorke prepared to rise to meet.
In the 26th minute a quick Adams free-kick to Sam-Yorke brought about another unproductive corner on the attacking right whilst five minutes later a swift City attack ended with Sam-Yorke denied by keeper Willis before the former slid into the latter as the ball ran free. Sam-Yorke saw yellow for his troubles whilst Willis remained grounded for treatment to his head.
Play was halted for a good six minutes before the Alfreton 'keeper returned with a bandaged head and his boss Nicky Law appeared to be airing his views somewhat loudly on the touchline, keeping Fourth Official Sean Richardson busy.
When play resumed, Alfreton had a great chance to level when Shaw fired past Farman only for Bencherif to clear off the line. The Town man then sliced well over from six yards when the ball was played back into the mix.
City's response saw Robinson advance at pace but was denied by Willis before Mendy's follow-up was blocked by a back-tracking defender. A minimum of five minutes was then indicated, despite the longer stoppage earlier due to Willis' injury.
The only action of note during the extra stages came at the end when a low cross into a packed City box ended with free-kick to the Imps, much to the annoyance of the travelling few.
HT: IMPS 1 ALFRETON 0
No changes were made during the break and Alfreton were quicky out of the traps with Johnston winning a corner which was duly cleared. At the other end Bencherif, up for an earlier free-kick, connected with a Marshall cross but Willis smothered.
Ben Tomlinson replaced Tyrell Waite seven minutes into the second period and his first touch saw him head a Mendy cross at Willis. Robinson was then left grounded following a late Wood challenge and although he returned to the fray was quickly replaced by Alan Power.
Power hadn't had a chance to get his boots dirty as, seconds later, Alfreton levelled with a goal out of nothing; John Johnston whipping in a cross from the right with Karl Hawley getting in front of Bencherif to head past Farman.
City looked for a quick response but Brown could only head a Newton corner wide of the target before Adams was booked for a sliding challenge on Bradley. Mendy joined him four minutes later for a foul on the same Town player.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Imps got their noses in front for a second time; a Newton corner was kept alive in the box and when the ball ran free, BEN TOMLINSON was the first to react , firing home clinically from 12 yards.
Two minutes later it was 3-1 and what a goal it was; MARCUS MARSHALL blasting home a 30-yard thunderbolt after the visitors failed to clear another City corner.
Town's response saw Bradley heads a Hawley cross over from four yards out before Jordan Burrow replaced Delano Sam-Yorke up front for the Imps. He was quickly involved, squaring for Tomlison who was crowded out.
Anthony Howell was replaced by Lee Stevenson for the final 11 minutes before Nathan Hicks and ex-Imp Jake Sheridan came on for Johnston and Shaw four minutes later. Sheridan was straight into the action, going in late on Burrow earning a yellow card for his troubles.
As the clock ticket on a superb save from Willis saw him deny Tomlinson who swapped passes with Marshall before volleying goalwards.
Midway through four added minutes, Alfreton reduced the arrears when Bradley fired home from 25 yards and when play restarted the Town man was booked for a cynical challenge on Caprice.
FT: IMPS 3 ALFRETON 2
6 Tony DIAGNE
8 Alan POWER (for ROBINSON 57)
9 Jordan BURROW (for SAM-YORKE 78)
11 Ben TOMLINSON (for WAITE 52)
26 Nick TOWNSEND
GOALS: BENCHERIF (5), TOMLINSON (70), MARSHALL (72)
BOOKINGS: SAM-YORKE (31), ADAMS (63), MENDY (67)
4 Duane COURTNEY
7 Nathan HICKS (for JOHNSTON 83)
8 Lee STEVENSON (for HOWELL 79)
14 Jake SHERIDAN (for SHAW 83)
16 Dan GRAY
GOALS: HAWLEY (57), BRADLEY (90+2)
BOOKING: SHERIDAN (85), BRADLEY (90+3)