Bonne strike sends City back to the top...Terry Hawkridge returned to the starting line-up and Macauley Bonne was handed a full debut as the third placed Imps took on second placed Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. Hawkridge and Bonne came in for Harry Anderson and Adam Marriott who dropped to the bench where they were joined by Jack Muldoon, back after a toe injury, Alan Power and Jamie McCombe.
The sun was trying to break through the clouds as referee Martin Coy led the two teams out of the tunnel and once the pre-match formalities were done and dusted play got underway with the hosts kicking off.
Tranmere were quickly out of the traps with Sean Raggett forced to block well from Connor Jennings whilst at the other end Matt Rhead was penalised for a push on Steve McNulty after Hawkridge whipped in a cross from the right.
A fourth minute Hawkridge cross was then blocked for the game's first corner whilst a minute later Rhead flicked on for Bonne who saw his powerful effort tipped behind by Scott Davies. This flag-kick, like the previous one, came to nothing though.
At the other end a swift Rovers attack ended with Raggett blocking a James Norwood shot out for a corner which ended up with Paul Farman easily holding Lois Maynard's header.
The first half passed its midway point after a quiet spell with play concentrated mainly in the middle third and it wasn't until the 25th minute for the next effort at goal; Luke Waterfall seeing his downward header from a free-kick tipped behind by Davies after McNulty went straight through the back of Rhead.
A 33rd minute lunge on Bradley Wood earned Jay Harris a yellow card and shortly afterwards a Bonne shot on the turn was deflected into Davies' gloves. The action then switched to the other end with Farman getting down well to tip behind a low Andy Cook drive
A City corner was then headed over by Rhead at full stretch before Beevers required treatment after taking a knock going in for a challenge on Norwood, who was flagged offside in the process.
The half ended after two additional minutes of play.
HT: TRANMERE 0 IMPS 0
Whilst the Imps emerged unchanged, Jake Kirby replaced Connor Jennings for Tranmere prior to the start of the second half.
Wood picked up an early booking following a high foot on Cook and in the 52nd minute Bonne won the first corner of the second half in front of the travelling fans but this was tipped away by Davies.
Another late challenge on Rhead earned McNulty a yellow card shortly afterwards and after a scrappy period of play, the hosts put the Imps under pressure by forcing a couple of corners.
Bonne latched on to a poor Norwood pass but was denied by Davies who palmed away for a corner. This ended with Bonne heading over with Harry Anderson replacing Nathan Arnold for City's first change before the resultant goal-kick was taken.
The Imps kept up the tempo and it duly paid off in the 68th minute when Rhead got in a great flick on which released Hawkridge on the right. He looked up and fired in a superb cross for MACAULEY BONNE to fire into the roof of the net for his first goal in City colours.
Tranmere quickly brought on Darren Stephenson for Andy Cook and he was in the action straight away, forcing Farman into a low save to his right.
In the 76th minute Adam Marriott came on for goal scorer Macauley Bonne and four minutes later Alan Power replaced Bradley Wood in the middle of the park. Adam Mekki for Jay Harris was Rovers' last change at the same time.
A foul on Norwood by Raggett gave Tranmere a free-kick but Michael Ihiekwe headed Hughes' delivery well wide. A number of misplaced passes from the home side then drew cries of derision from the Rovers' fans.
With four minutes remaining Beevers was adjudged to have felled Stephenson a foot outside the City box but Mekki wasted the chance by firing straight over. Farman then saw yellow for taking too long over the taking of the goal-kick.
In the closing stages of normal time Anderson sprinted down the left, cut in and saw his curling effort palmed behind by Davies at full stretch. This corner lead to another after Rhead's header deflected off McNulty.
In the first of four added minutes a corner at the other end saw keeper Davies go up in support and he was picked out by Jennings only t picks out Davies with the corner but the keeper's header goes inches wide
The last action of the game came in the form of a booking for Hawkridge following a tussle close to the corner flag and when the final whistle went the Imps were quick to trot across and applaud the 540 travelling supporters.
FT: TRANMERE 0 IMPS 1
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Bradley WOOD
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
11 Terry HAWKRIDGE
18 Lee BEEVERS
25 Sean RAGGETT
28 Nathan ARNOLD
29 Macauley BONNE
30 Alex WOODYARD
7 Jack MULDOON
8 Alan POWER (for WOOD 80)
10 Adam MARRIOTT (for BONNE 76)
12 Harry ANDERSON (for ARNOLD 66)
27 Jamie McCOMBE
GOAL: BONNE (68)
BOOKINGS: WOOD (47), FARMAN (87), HAWKRIDGE (90+4)
1 Scott DAVIES
2 Lee VAUGHAN
4 Steven JENNINGS
5 Steve McNULTY
6 Michael IHIEKWE
8 Jay HARRIS
9 Andy COOK
10 James NORWOOD
11 Connor JENNINGS
20 Lois MAYNARD
24 Jeff HUGHES
3 Liam RIDEHALGH
7 Adam MEKKI (for HARRIS 80)
14 Darren STEPHENSON (for COOK 71)
17 Jake KIRBY (for JENNINGS h/t)
13 Iain TURNER
BOOKINGS: HARRIS (33), McNULTY (53)
REFEREE: Martin Coy
ASSISTANTS: Peter Sporne & John Matthews
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Oliver Bickle
ATTENDANCE: 5,274 (540 City supporters)