Bradley Wood returned from suspension and replaced Liam Hearn as the Imps kicked their 2015/16 FA Cup campaign off with this Fourth Qualifying Round away tie at Tranmere Rovers. Hearn's omission saw skipper Alan Power start in the attacking midfield role behind top scorer Matt Rhead whilst there was a welcome return to the bench for Matt Sparrow following a spell out injured.
Heavy drizzle throughout the course of the morning and early afternoon made for a greasy surface and once referee Wayne Barratt and the two captains had gone through the pre-match routine, play got underway with the Imps kicking off.
The first half chance went Tranmere's way in the second minute but Lois Maynard drilled well over from 25 yards with City's response seeing Jack Muldoon flick a header just wide after Matt Rhead beat Steve McNulty in the air to meet a Chris Bush free-kick.
In the sixth minute Wood deflected a Gary Taylor-Fletcher effort behind for a corner but after Rhead headed clear, the hosts played the ball straight out for a goal-kick.
Two more Tranmere corners followed; the first after Paul Farman got down well to tip behind a low Taylor-Fletcher shot and the second seeing the City stopper palm over a long-range Jay Harris drive. The second saw McNulty head well wide.
In the 13th minute ex-Imp Taylor-Fletcher prodded wide after James Norwood capitalised on a misunderstanding between Wood and Lee Beevers whilst at the other end a Terry Hawkridge cross was hurriedly cleared as an end-to-end opening continued.
A scrappy spell followed due to a number of misplaced passes from both sides and it wasn't until the 25th minute until the next half-chance came along; Muldoon's attempted lob over Davies being claimed by the Tranmere stopper following good work by Rhead.
Shortly afterwards Greg Tempest fired an effort over after the home defence half-cleared a free-kick whilst at the other end a Norwood snap-shot hit Waterfall for a Tranmere corner which was cleared.
The hosts were forced into a 31st minute change with Marlon Jackson replacing the injured Adam Mekki whilst a minute later a swift City attack ended with Wood being crudely upended. The neatly-worked free-kick routine ended with Waterfall heading across the box and out for a goal-kick.
Six minutes before the break good play between Muldoon and Beevers ended with the latter winning a corner which was headed over by Waterfall. Tempest was then left grounded following a late challenge which went unspotted by the officials and as he returned Waterfall headed in a Hawkridge cross but the offside flag was raised.
After Muldoon had his shirt pulled by Hill who escaped a booking Bush saw his free-kick take a deflection before going inches over and after Davies Tempest's delivery, play switched to the other end with an unproductive Tranmere corner being the last action of the opening period.
HT: TRANMERE 0 IMPS 0
Both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half with the hosts restarting proceedings.
The first action of the second period saw Bush deflect a Jackson cross for a Tranmere corner which was cleared with City's response seeing Rhead head a Hawkridge cross headed wide after he beat two men in the air to win the ball.
Another Hawkridge centre was cleared off Rhead at the back post only for the officials to award a goal kick rather than what looked to be an obvious corner. A high boot on Power then saw City win a free-kick 25 yards out but this was curled over by the Imps' skipper.
In the 56th minute Liam Hearn replaced Chris Bush. Beevers switched to left-back with Wood going to right-back and Power into midfield as a result. Six minutes later an angled drive from Muldoon went wide of the target.
After the home defence half-cleared a Wood throw-in, Power volleyed over from range whilst in the 68th minute home 'keeper Davies claimed a Farman free-kick at the second attempt under pressure from Muldoon. A quick Tranmere break then ended with Norwood firing well over.
Good defending by Wood saw him deflect a Jackson effort behind for a corner which City dealt with. Shortly afterwards appeals for a Tranmere penalty were waved away as Beevers and Taylor-Fletcher tangled in the box.
Matt Sparrow replaced Greg Tempest in the 78th minute and five minutes later Jackson ran into Beevers but officials awarded the hosts a free-kick on their right. Rhead was back to head clear.
With three minutes on the clock a superb save by Farman saw him keep out a Taylor-Fletcher effort whilst at the other end Rhead was flattened by Riley but referee Barratt let play continue. When the ball went dead Rhead was allowed treatment.
In the second of four added minutes Hearn had a cross deflect out for a corner and in the third a crude block on Hearn earned Riley a yellow card for the last action of the game.
A replay then to settle this Fourth Qualifying Round tie.
FT: TRANMERE 0 IMPS 0
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Bradley WOOD
3 Greg TEMPEST
5 Luke WATERFALL
6 Chris BUSH
7 Jack MULDOON
8 Alan POWER
9 Matt RHEAD
12 Terry HAWKRIDGE
18 Lee BEEVERS
26 Callum HOWE
10 Liam HEARN (for BUSH 56)
14 Conner ROBINSON
15 Kegan EVERINGTON
16 Alex SIMMONS
17 Elliot HODGE
21 Matt SPARROW (for TEMPEST 78)
13 Aidan GRANT
1 Scott DAVIES
3 Liam RIDEHALGH
4 Steven JENNINGS
8 Jay HARRIS
9 Gary TAYLOR-FLETCHER
10 James NORWOOD
11 Lois MAYNARD
15 Martin RILEY
16 Matt HILL
17 Adam MEKKI
24 Steve McNULTY
2 Ritchie SUTTON
6 Marcus HOLNESS
7 Marlon JACKSON (for MEKKI 31)
12 Michael IHIEKWE
19 Jonny MARGETTS
34 Daren ASKEW
13 Iain TURNER
BOOKING: RILEY (90+3)
REFEREE: Wayne Barratt
ASSISTANTS: Ian Gittins & Ben Cooke
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Greg Rollason
ATTENDANCE: 3,729 (285 City supporters)