City extend their lead at the top of the table following hard-earned home success over Dover AthleticSean Long, Elliott Whitehouse and Adam Marriott replaced Bradley Wood, Alan Power and Theo Robinson as the Imps welcomed Dover Athletic for this Friday night Vanarama National League at Sincil Bank Stadium in front of the BT Sport cameras.
On the back of the famous Cup success over Ipswich Town, confidence was high in the City camp as referee Anthony Backhouse led the two teams out of the tunnel on what was a chilly January evening.
Dover kicked off attacking the Stacey West Stand, which was fully of City fans for the first time in a number of years, and it was a cagey opening as both sides took their time to settle into proceedings.
Any hopes of a lively beginning were hampered with a lengthy break as Dover's Ross Lafayette needed treatment after coming off second best in a challenge with Luke Waterfall.
Once play resumed though City pressed and when Terry Hawkridge combined Sam Habergham and when the latter squared the ball back, Dover defender Tyrone Sterling sliced the ball into his own net to give the Imps a ninth minute lead.
Five minutes later another low Habergham centre was deflected into the side netting for a City corner and after this was cleared a sweeping Imps move ended with an overhit final pass to Marriott by Arnold going straight through to visiting keeper Steve Arnold.
A low drive from Hawkridge was then held well by Arnold, Matt Rhead flicked a great Hawkridge cross wide and Nathan Arnold fired over from 25 yards as the Imps pushed for a second whils on the half-hour mark a harsh decision against Habergham on Ricky Miller ended with the Dover striker firing tamely at the City wall.
Nine minutes before the break there was almost a sniff for Arnold following good link-up play with Marriott before Raggett was pulled up for a foul on Lafayette at the other end. Miller's free-kick though was headed well wide by skipper Jamie Grimes.
In the 38th minute Waterfall connected with a Habergham corner before the ball bounced into Arnold's gloves and in the first of four added minutes a hooked effort from Miller was held at the second attempt by Farman as Dover carved out their first real attempt at goal.
HT: IMPS 1 DOVER 0
City made a change before the restart with Theo Robinson coming on for Matt Rhead and he was involved straight away as, after a cross-cum-shot by Long crashed against the bar, Marriott proded a Robinson centre wide of the target.
A lively start to the second period continued with Marriott drawing a foul out of his marker 25 yards from goal but Arnold's free-kick, and his follow-up effort, crashed against the Dover wall.
Joe Healy replaced James Hurst for Dover in the 54th minute and shortly afterwards Robinson was close to connecting with a whipped in Arnold centre. Alan Power then came on for Adam Marriott.
In the 62nd minute City had a close shave as a Miller free-kick clipped the outside of the post with City's response seeing Whitehouse fire over following a good move down the right hand flank.
After a quiet spell, a period of Dover pressure saw them force a couple of corners around the 73rd minute and one saw them somehow keep the ball out as it was fired goalwards from close range.
As the final 10 minutes approached a clever free-kick routine ended with Whitehouse firing wide before good work from Hawkridge saw him win a corner which was cleared.
It wasn't long however before the Imps were pressing forward again though and after creating space for himself TERRY HAWKRIDGE drilled low into the bottom right corner to double City's lead.
This proved to be Hawkridge's final touch as before play restarted he was replaced by Bradley Wood as Sincil Bank rose as one to give him a standing ovation.
Tyrone Marsh replaced Moses Emmanuel for the shell-shocked visitors, whose manager was certainly an animated character on the touchline. Just before a minimum of six minutes were to be added on Habergham needed treatment following a sliding challenge with Essam.
City safely saw out the extra stages and once again were fully deserving of the three points with a late yellow card for Sam Magri following a late challenge on Arnold adding to Dover's disappointment.
FT: IMPS 2 DOVER 0
1 Paul FARMAN
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Adam MARRIOTT
11 Terry HAWKRIDGE
12 Sean LONG
25 Sean RAGGETT
28 Nathan ARNOLD
30 Alex WOODYARD
2 Bradley WOOD (for HAWKRIDGE 84)
6 Callum HOWE
8 Alan POWER (for MARRIOTT 58)
31 Theo ROBINSON (for RHEAD h/t)
38 Joe WARD
GOALS: STERLING (9 og), HAWKRIDGE (83)
18 Steve ARNOLD
2 Sam MAGRI
3 Aswad THOMAS
5 Connor ESSAM
6 Richard ORLU
9 Ricky MILLER
15 Jamie GRIMES
16 Tyrone STERLING
17 Moses EMMANUEL
25 Ross LAFAYETTE
27 James HURST
4 Chris KINNEAR
10 Tyrone MARSH (for EMMANUEL 85)
11 Mitchell PINNOCK
23 Jack PARKINSON
26 Joe HEALY (for HURST 54)
BOOKING: MAGRI (90+7)
REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse
ASSISTANTS: Matthew Smith & Grant Taylor
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Robert Massey-Ellis
ATTENDANCE: 6,491 (85 visiting supporters)