Braintree 1 Imps 3
Jake Caprice was recalled to the starting line-up at right-back with Tom Miller moving inside at the expense of Nat Brown who was absent through illness for this Vanarama Conference game at Braintree Town. Kegan Everington, meanwhile, was handed his first start in midfield with Conner Robinson not included in the 16.
City kicked off but it was the hosts who were the first to threaten with Paul Farman forced to claim a low second minute Dan Sparkes effort at his near post before the Imps' defence were forced to clear a free-kick from the home right, given after Jordan Keane pushed Simeon Akinola.
Braintree continued to enjoy the better of the early spoils with Chez Isaac slicing an effort well over after a chance fell to him just outside the box before Farman saved Tom Miller's blushes after he gave possession away cheaply to Akinola who advanced before firing goalwards.
In the 13th minute a deflected Sam Habergham effort lead to first corner of game and after Farman claimed this well, a quickly-taken Ben Tomlinson free-kick at the other end landed in the car park behind the goal.
The home side remained on the attack with Bencherif blocking a Sparkes drive for a second corner to Braintree which ws cleared by Power at the near post before a speculative long-range volley from Alan Massey dipped over Farman before crashing against the crossbar.
After weathering the Town storm City attacked in the 22nd minute with Ben Tomlinson winning a corner but nothing came from Jordan Cranston's delivery. The next attack four minutes later , however, saw the Imps grab the lead.
Loanee Kieran Wallace was the architect as he played a clever through-ball inside the full-back giving TOMLINSON the chance to take a touch before setting his sights; his effort at goal was reached by keeper Nick Hamann but the ball had too much pace on it for the home defence and bounced over the line for the opening goal of the game.
Six minutes later, and with Town still shell-shocked, City doubled their advantage after a sweeping attacking move opened up the home defence. Whilst Everington, Keane ad Wallace all played their part, it was Cranston's ball into the box which did the damage; JORDAN BURROW alert before finishing clinically past Hamann from eight yards.
Home boss Alan Devonshire's response was to replace left-back Mitch Brundle with James Mulley but it was a trip on Akinola by Keane inches outside the box which let the home side back into the game; Sparkes' curling home a 44th minute free-kick to halve the arrears.
Home man Isaac picked up a yellow card whilst a cleared Tomlinson header from a deep Cranston corner was the only incident during two additional minutes of play.
HT: BRAINTREE 1 IMPS 2
With rain falling, both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half and it was the Imps who were the first to press with Power releasing Wallace on the left but his dangerous cross was cleared out for a corner.
Power's delivery was inches away from Bencherif but City kept up the pressure and when Cranston picked out the skipper with a deep centre, he headed into the path of BURROW who finished neatly for his second o the game in the 49th minute.
Braintree looked for a quick response but brave goalkeeping from Farman saw him block a powerful Isaac effort before the City stopper claimed under pressure from Sparkes after a looping ball bounced dangerously in the box.
A crude bodycheck on Power earned Ryan Peters a 62nd minute yellow card whilst at the other end Miller was at full stretch to clear a cross out for a corner. Everington was then harshly booked for a foul on Paine before Cranston saw yellow after he kicked the ball away whilst his teammate was being spoken to by referee Justin Amey.
In the 68th minute Hamann was at full stretch to claim a deflected Cranston effort and three minutes later the keeper denied Burrow a hat-trick, holding his header from a great Caprice cross.
A trip on Power earned Sam Habergham a booking with the City skipper joining him in the book following his protests, which started as his head was being tickled by Paine's studs.
In the 76th minute Bernard Mensah replaced Jordan Cox for Town before Jon Nolan came on for Kegan Everington who had put in an excellent shift on his full debut. A minute later Power picked out Miller from a corner but his downward header bounced over the bar.
A deflected Wallace centre led to another flag-kick but Braintree somehow scrambled clear in a muddy goalmouth. Alex Simmons replaced Ben Tomlinson with 83 minutes on the clock.
Three minutes later Tony Diagne came on for Kieran Wallace and his first touch following his lengthy lay-off saw him fire goalwards from 25 yards only for Hamann to tip over.
Diagne set his sights again shortly after but was charged down and shortly afterwards a slick build-up ended with the overlapping Caprice running out of space, giving Hamann the chance to smother.
Shortly after four additional minutes was indicated, Joe Moore replaced Chez Isaac for the hosts and this was the only action to note before referee Amey brought a productive afternoon for the Imps to a close.
FT: BRAINTREE 1 IMPS 3
1 Paul FARMAN
17 Jake CAPRICE
2 Tom MILLER
5 Hamza BENCHERIF
7 Jordan CRANSTON
20 Jordan KEANE
18 Kegan EVERINGTON
21 Kieran WALLACE
8 Alan POWER
11 Ben TOMLINSON
9 Jordan BURROW
6 Tony DIAGNE (for WALLACE 86)
10 John MARSDEN
14 Jon NOLAN (for EVERINGTON 77)
19 Alex SIMMONS (for TOMLINSON 83)
30 Aidan GRANT
GOALS: TOMLINSON (26), BURROW (32, 49)
BOOKINGS: EVERINGTON (65), CRANSTON (66), POWER (72)
1 Nick HAMANN
2 Mitch BRUNDLE
5 Matt PAINE
6 Alan MASSEY
3 Sam HABERGHAM
23 Ryan PETERS
4 Chez ISAAC
8 Kenny DAVIS
15 Simeon AKINOLA
18 Jordan COX
11 Dan SPARKES
16 Joe MAYBANKS
17 Bernard MENSAH (for COX 76)
24 Joe MOORE (for ISAAC 90+1)
26 James MULLEY (for BRUNDLE 37)
29 Carl PENTNEY
GOAL: SPARKES (44)
BOOKINGS: ISAACS (45), PETERS (62), HABERGHAM (71)
REFEREE: Justin Amey
ASSISTANTS: Matthew Lee & Oliver Jackson
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Nolan Wilde