Paul Farman returned from injury and Liam Hearn came in for Kyle Wootton as the Imps welcomed Tranmere Rovers to a wet and windy Sincil Bank Stadium for their latest Vanarama National League game of the season.
With Alan Power back on the bench City were skippered again by top scorer Matt Rhead and once the toss had taken place the game got underway the Imps kicked off attacking the Bridge McFarland Stand.
City were quickly on the offensive with Hearn firing inches wide on the 15 second mark after Rhead cleverly dummied a Lee Beevers forward header into his strike partner's path whilst at the other end Tranmere's first attack ended when James Norwood played a through ball straight to Farman.
In the ninth minute a Jack Muldoon cross was blocked for the game's first corner but Greg Tempest's near-post delivery was cleared. Shortly afterwards ex-Imp Gary Taylor-Fletcher got away with a trip on Bradley Wood before curling well wide from long range.
A looping effort from Tempest then landed on the roof of the Tranmere net after Rhead flicked on a Wood throw and in the 20th minute a Norwood volley went across the face of goal and out for a goal-kick.
Tranmere won their first corner courtesy of a deflected Taylor-Fletcher shot a couple of minutes later but the former City man's flag-kick was poor and the ball was cleared.
Referee Hicks spoke to both Callum Howe and Mangan following an off-the-ball tussle and two minutes later he dished out a very harsh caution for Muldoon following an aerial challenge on Riley.
Clear fouls by Norwood on Waterfall and Hill on Muldoon both went unpunished, much to the annoyance of the Imps fans. Good work by Muldoon then saw him win a corner on the right but Wood was unable to leap high enough to connect with Tempest's delivery.
When Hill was penalised for a foul on Muldoon, Tempest's free-kick was cleared at the second attempt by Steve McNulty. At the other end Farman got down well to push away a low skidding drive from Harris.
City responded and after a free-kick ended with Hearn winning a corner, Tempest's delivery picked out LUKE WATERFALL who powered in a header from six yards to put the Imps in front with his goal of the season.
Midway through three added minutes Sparrow picked up his fifth booking of the season following a trip on Taylor-Fletcher and the half ended with referee Hicks speaking to both Rhead and McNulty after the former was left grounded after an off-the-ball incident with the latter. The discussions between the two players continued as they went down the tunnel for their half-time breather.
HT: IMPS 1 TRANMERE 0
Both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half with Tranmere restarting as the rain continued to sheet down.
The visitors were quickly out of the traps with Norwood scuffing a shot wide of the target following a break and cross from the right by Jennings before ex-Imp Ben Tomlinson shot weakly at Farman.
In the 52nd minute a Muldoon drive was tipped wide by Davies for a corner which came to nothing and three minutes later City cleared a free-kick before Muldoon advanced and won a corner.
City kept pressing for a second with Davies dropping a Muldoon cross but Hearn was unable to latch on to the loose ball. Alan Power then replaced Craig Stanley with the game in the 58th minute and three minutes later Farman held a low Mangan free-kick from 25 yards after Power's first involvement saw him commit a foul
Tranmere's Riley went straight through the back of Hearn in the 66th minute picking up a deserved yellow card and when Harris fouled Beevers 60 seconds later both players exchanged words. Referee Hicks spoke to both and play restarted with a City free-kick.
In the 73rd minute a Tempest cross found Muldoon whose drive was blocked and cleared for a throw-in. Before this was taken, Adam Mekki replaced Tomlinson for Tranmere and three minutes later Kyle Wootton came on for Liam Hearn up front for the Imps.
A bullet drive from Muldoon was tipped behind by Davies as the Imps threatened again and after the City number seven surged down the right he was hacked down by Jennings who saw yellow.
Farman easily held an 89th minute Mangan free-kick and in the final minute Terry Hawkridge replaced Jack Muldoon who got a great reception as he left the pitch.
Four additional minutes passed without incident, although Norwood's frustrations at the impending defeat saw him see yellow for a trip on Wood.
FT: IMPS 1 TRANMERE 0
6 Chris BUSH
8 Alan POWER (for STANLEY 58)
12 Terry HAWKRIDGE (for MULDOON 90)
24 Kyle WOOTTON (for HEARN 78)
13 Aidan GRANT
GOAL: WATERFALL (44)
BOOKINGS: MULDOON (28), SPARROW (45+2)