With Andrew Boyce moving to Scunthorpe United on loan, Luke Foster partnered Nat Brown in the centre of defence for this Skrill Premier game against Hereford United at Gelder Group Sincil Bank Stadium. Todd Jordan and Nick Wright also returned with Marlon Jackson dropping to the bench.
City kicked off against a Hereford side which included ex-Imps Josh O'Keefe, Sam Smith and Chris Bush in their starting line-up, and enjoyed some early possession as they looked for a way through the United defence in the opening stages.
That early breakthrough failed to materialise though and after Sean Newton was fortunate to escape a caution following a foul on Jon Brown, Frankie Artus picked out Smith who, at full stretch, fortunately diverted the ball over rather than in.
Smith and Nat Brown then tussled on the edge of the box following a ball over the top but as Smith went to ground referee Jason Whiteley was happy for play to carry on with the ball trickling through to Paul Farman.
A quiet half continued before Brown felled the advancing Daniel Leadbitter with Artus's scuffed free-kick clipping the City wall for the game's first corner which was cleared. Jon Nolan then got in a great block to deny Damon Lathrope before O'Keefe headed a long throw a foot wide.
The first shot on target came in the 29th minute when Bush tested Farman from 30 yards whilst a couple of minutes later Nolan was booked for a late challenge on Jon Brown.
City's first corner came along shortly afterwards but Power sent the ball straight out of play whilst a long-range dipping Mo Fofana volley forced United 'keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston to back pedal before claiming under his bar.
A shot on the turn by Nick Wright went straight at Lloyd-Weston as the Imps pressed forward again whilst at the other end a cross crashed against Tom Miller with appeals for hand ball being waved away before Foster was left grounded after an O'Keefe challenge.
Jordan was the next to set his sights, forcing Lloyd-Weston to gather low to his left whilst Hereford's response saw Bush curl a 25-yard free-kick a foot wide of Farman's right-hand upright.
In the early stages of two added minutes, the overlapping Miller was denied by Lloyd-Weston before Nolan slipped and scuffed his shot well wide.
HT: Imps 0 Hereford 0
Both sides emerged unchanged for the start of the second half and it wasn't long before the Imps were pushing forward and after a Miller throw-in wasn't cleared, a forward ball was flicked on by Nat Brown and there on the end of it was BEN TOMLINSON who clinically drilled past Lloyd-Weston for the opening goal.
City remained on the offensive as they looked for a second with Lloyd-Weston doing well to palm away a Tomlinson header with Wright just unable to latch on to the loose ball.
Hereford's response saw Smith head a Jon Brown free-kick straight at Farman before Rankine's appeals for handball as his drive crashed against Nat Brown laughed off by referee Whiteley.
The tackles were starting to fly in now, adding some spice to proceedings, whilst Artus volleyed just wide from a Brown centre as he pushed for a leveller.
A change for City saw Jake Sheridan replace Jon Nolan in the 64th minute whilst Dan Walker for Jon Brown was United's first switch four minutes later.
A long throw into the City box caused a futter or two when Bush got on the end and headed against the bar before the Imps scrambled clear. At the other end Tomlinson won a corner to ease the pressure.
Bohan Dixon for Nick Wright was City's second change of the game as the clock showed 12 minutes remaining and his first taste of the action saw him take out Leadbitter for a yellow card.
Tomlinson then went in hard on Leadbitter with players from both sides squaring up to each other before referee Whiteley brandished a straight red card to the City striker, much to the annoyance of the Imps' fans in the Co-op Stand who were quick to air their frustration at the man in black.
Things went from bad to worse in the final minute when a long throw from Bush was allowed to bounce in the box and there at the back post to hammer past Farman was Artus who levelled the scores.
Four additional minutes was indicated after a City corner came to nothing whilst the last action of the game saw Dixon fizz a long-range drive over the bar.
FT: Imps 1 Hereford 1