There were three changes to the City starting line-up for this Vanarama Conference home game against Chester. Tom Miller was back from injury in place of Jake Caprice, new loan signing Jordan Cranston was in for the departed Sean Newton and Jordan Burrow was a straight swap for Delano Sam-Yorke up front. Caprice and Sam-Yorke were joined on the bench by another new face in John Marsden.
City started attacking the Bridge McFarland Stand and were the first to press with Arnaud Mendy hooking an effort over the bar after the Chester defence failed to deal with a long Miller throw-in from the right.
It was a bright start from the Imps with play concentrated in the Chester half in the early stages but the defence had to be on their guard in the ninth minute to crowd out Ryan Higgins who had found space just inside the box.
On the quarter-hour mark some good defending by debutant Cranston saw him divert a dangerous cross out for a Chester corner which was dealt with by skipper Nat Brown whilst at the other end a sliding challenge on Ben Tomlinson by Ben Heneghan earned the visiting full-back a deserved yellow card.
Four minutes later Charlee Adams was fouled by Sean McConville before both players square up to each other. Referee Dean Treleaven calmed things down before temperatures boiled over and when play resumed Marcus Marshall was inches away from connecting with a Jon Nolan ball but Chester keeper Jon Worsop gathered well.
Shortly afterwards an aerial challenge between Burrow and Michael Kay ended up with former booked and the latter rubbing his head. Mendy then saw yellow for a mistimed tackle on McConville as Mr Treleaven got his cards out again.
In the 27th minute Brown was inches away from connecting with a quality Cranston free-kick whilst five minutes later Miller was booked for an off-the-ball trip on Hughes.
Good play from Marshall saw him win a corner on the right but nothing came from the set-piece situation and as Chester responded four minutes before the break McConville created something from nothing as he rifled in a powerful drive from just inside the box that gave Paul Farman no chance between the sticks.
City had four additional minutes in which to get back into the game before the half-time break but having failed to trouble Worsnop during these extra stages McConville's goal was enough to separate the teams at the interval.
HT: IMPS 0 CHESTER 1
The teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half and the first action following the break saw Tomlinson and Kay go nose-to-nose after the City man was penalised for a trip on Roberts. Both offenders get a yellow card.
Farman punched away a Rooney effort five minutes later before a swift City break at the other end ended with Tomlinson setting up Mendy who was crowded out. Nothing came from the resultant corner before John Marsden replaced Jon Nolan for the Imps.
The half wore on with chances few and far between; all the play was in the middle third and very congested, although City were starting to look livelier in attack when in possession than they were during the first half.
Charlee Adams warmed Worsnop's hands with a stinging 25-yard drive in the 72nd minute as the Imps got a rare sight of goal before Tomlinson let fly from range only to hit the roof of the Stacey West Stand. This was Tomlinson's last act as he was replaced by Tyrell Waite shortly afterwards whilst a change for the visitors saw Kieran Charnock come on for Ben Heneghan.
Kane Richards for Craig Mahon was Chester's second switch as the game entered its final 10 minutes before Marsden had an effort charged down as the Imps pushed forward in numbers. A third and final Chester change saw Kingsley James replace Matty Hughes for the last five minutes.
City went forward in numbers again only for Bencherif had an effort charged down and this seemed to sum up the lack of lady luck in the attacking third throughout the course of the game; the ball running kindly for Chester once it came off the visiting defender.
The highlight of four additional minutes was a City corner, won thanks to skill and pace from Waite, but with Farman up in support, that killer ball once again failed to materialise when it mattered. The game ended after a long Miller throw ended with Adams volleying over from the edge of the box.
FT: IMPS 0 CHESTER 1
10 John MARSDEN (for NOLAN 55)
15 Delano SAM-YORKE
17 Jake CAPRICE
25 Tyrell WAITE (for TOMLINSON 76)
30 Aidan GRANT
BOOKINGS: BURROW (23), MENDY (25), MILLER (32), TOMLINSON (47)
2 George THOMSON
6 Kieran CHARNOCK (for HENEGHAN 78)
8 Kingsley JAMES (for HUGHES 86)
15 Kane RICHARDS (for MAHON 81)
13 Jon VISCOSI
GOAL: McCONVILLE (41)
BOOKINGS: HENEGHAN (17), KAY (47)