With Bradley Wood suspended, Matt Rhead and Greg Tempest injured and Robbie McDaid away with the Northern Ireland U21 squad, manager Chris Moyses was forced to reshuffle his pack for this Easter Monday visit of Gateshead to Sincil Bank Stadium.
Elliot Hodge, recalled from his youth loan at Gainsborough Trinity a day before it was scheduled to come to a close, and Alex Simmons were both handed starts as was Matt Sparrow as Moyses went for a 3-5-2 formation.
City kicked off attacking the Bridge McFarland Stand with good work from Simmons seeing him win a corner in the opening minute. Simmons took the kick himself and saw his delivery met by Chris Bush who saw his point-blank header saved by Gateshead stopper Sam Russell.
Gateshead's first break forward saw them force a corner on their left in the sixth minute but the ball flew over James Curtis and out for a City goal-kick. At the other end a Simmons drive deflected out for a corner which was claimed at the second attempt by Russell.
City were playing some decent stuff and forced a couple more corners which were hurriedly cleared by the visiting defence whilst in the 23rd minute good vision from Hodge saw him release Simmons who was denied by the legs of the advancing Russell.
Shortly afterwards Hodge had a volley blocked by Gus Mafuta on the edge of the box and Luke Waterfall headed a Terry Hawkridge corner wide as the Imps remained on the offensive.
As the half-hour mark approached, Alan Power found Jack Muldoon who turned his man superbly before he was denied by Russell. As the ball ran free Maris fired over at full stretch.
A blatant tug on Muldoon's shirt saw Gateshead's Curtis pick up a 33rd minute caution and four minutes later his central defensive partner Ben Clark was fortunate not to join him after taking out Muldoon from behind.
The free-kick, however, ended with Hodge finding Simmons and his cross found LUKE WATERFALL who gave the Imps a deserved lead with a fine back post header.
Gateshead looked for a quick response with a rare attack ending with Farman denying Hamilton with a fine save low to his right before the back-tracking Hodge deflected the ball out for a corner which was duly cleared.
The half ended after one additional minute of play.
HT: IMPS 1 GATESHEAD 0
Whilst City emerged unchanged, Gateshead made a switch prior to the start of the second half with Daniel Johnson replacing Darren Holden.
The first action following the restart came in the form of a low Hawkride free-kick which flew wide of the target before good work from Hodge saw him shake off Clark and win a corner which ended with Maris seeing his cross-cum-shot go just wide.
In the 59th minute a sweeping City move involving Simmons and Sparrow ended with Russell saving bravely at the feet of Muldoon and two minutes later a lunge on Power earned Gateshead right-back Craig Baxter a yellow card.
A second Gateshead change came in the 63rd minute with Josh Gillies coming on for Rob Ramshaw and three minutes later Power was inches away from making it 2-0 as his low effort from the edge of the box trickled wide. Muldoon then flicked a Beevers cross into Russell's gloves; this coming after Alex Whitmore got a final warning from the referee after a foul on Hodge.
City kept pressing for a second with Simmons drilling over from the edge of the box after great interchange play with Maris in the 70th minute whilst James Caton replacing Elliot Hodge a couple of minutes later. Michael Onovwigun for Gus Mafuta was Gateshead's final change.
In the 78th minute City were hit by a sucker punch as a long ball forward out fo the Gateshead defence held up in the wind and Johnson duly obliged, taking a couple of touches before slotting past the advancing Farman.
A Caton cross was headed wide by Muldoon as the Imps look for a quick response and three minutes later Power went down in the box under Baxter's challenge. Referee Ollie Yates was quick to blow his whistle; but the decision was for a dive rather than a trip and out came a yellow card for the City skipper.
Gateshead's Whitmore was booked for persistent infringement a minute later and after Maris headed a Power cross just over, Kegan Everington replaced Matt Sparrow in midfield.
As four added minutes was indicated, Power drilled a 25-yard effort inches wide and this proved to be the last action of what was another game in which City failed to kill off.
FT: IMPS 1 GATESHEAD 1
1 Paul FARMAN
5 Luke WATERFALL
6 Chris BUSH
7 Jack MULDOON
8 Alan POWER
12 Terry HAWKRIDGE
16 Alex SIMMONS
17 Elliot HODGE
18 Lee BEEVERS
21 Matt SPARROW
29 George MARIS
15 Kegan EVERINGTON (for SPARROW 86)
24 Courtney WILDIN
26 Callum HOWE
28 James CATON (for HODGE 72)
13 Aidan GRANT
GOAL: WATERFALL (37)
BOOKING: POWER (82)
1 Sam RUSSELL
2 Craig BAXTER
5 James CURTIS
6 Ben CLARK
8 Rob AMSHAW
9 Jon SHAW
12 Gus MAFUTA
14 Darren HOLDEN
26 Paddy McLAUGHLIN
28 CJ HAMILTON
29 Alex WHITMORE
10 Josh GILLIES (for RAMSHAW 63)
16 Michael ONOVWIGUN (for MAFUTA 74)
20 Daniel JOHNSON (for HOLDEN h/t)
30 Andre BENNETT
13 Shaun MACDONALD
GOAL: JOHNSON (78)
BOOKINGS: CURTIS (33), BAXTER (61), WHITMORE (83)
REFEREE: Ollie Yates
ASSISTANTS: Paul Evans & Richard Watson
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Duncan Carratt
ATTENDANCE: 2,142 (37 visiting supporters)