Anthony Scully hit a hat-trick as the Imps turned on the style against Manchester United U21s in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Scully’s efforts, two of which came in the first half and one after the break, ensured the Imps set the early pace in Group F ahead of games against Bradford City and Sunderland.
The Imps started brightly and almost went ahead in the second minute when Ted Bishop picked the pocket of Alvaro Fernandez, but placed his effort just wide of the far post.
An entertaining opening saw both sides trying to play passing football, with a cross from Regan Poole after eight minutes just evading a trio of his team-mates.
A good move down the left ended with a Scully shot from just inside the area which was tipped over by Dermot Mee, while D’Mani Mellor was called upon to block a Dan Nlundulu shot after the on-loan Southampton man expertly cut inside his man.
The breakthrough came after 23 minutes. Conor McGrandle’s cross from the right was so expertly placed that Martin Svidersky could only turn it onto the near post - it came back off the inside off the woodwork and fell nicely for Scully to turn the ball home.
The visitors were passing the ball nicely but not testing Imps debutant Sam Long, with Charlie McNeill trying a lob from just inside his area a sign of the dominance of the home side.
Nlundulu again went close after collecting a pass inside from Cohen Bramall, before Scully made it 2-0.
It was a smart counter-attacking move orchestrated by Bishop, with a quarterback-style pass from inside his own half which found the run of Scully.
With Nlundulu making a run into the area to draw attention, Scully promptly placed the ball in the back of the net with defender Fernandez unable to stop it despite throwing himself at the ball.
United’s best chance of the opening half came just before the break when O’Neill sent a low effort wide, although Long had his angles covered to leave it to go behind for a goal kick.
The last chance of the half came just before the break, with Longdon’s header from Bramall’s cross cleared off the line.
The Imps again started the second period brightly, with Bishop going close before some fantastic play from Bramall then Scully set up Nlundulu whose effort just went wide at the near post.
Scully completed his hat-trick after 57 minutes, with Longdon afforded plenty of space to progress down the right wing before putting in an inch-perfect cross for his team-mate to head home.
A great pass from Bramall set Bishop free, and only a great save from Mee denied him a deserved goal.
The ever-dangerous Nlundulu saw another effort blocked, with Mee again alert to deny Lasse Sorensen from the follow-up.
The visitors pulled one goal back after 68 minutes, with a smart pass from Shola Shoretire sending McNeill through to place an unstoppable shop into the bottom right corner.
Scully’s performance was rewarded with a standing ovation when he was replaced by Billy Brooks with 10 minutes to go.
The Imps played out the final stages with 10 men as Dan Nlundulu went off injured and there were no remaining outfield players available on the bench.
A dramatic finish saw Bjorn Hardley power home a header, before the visitors had Hannibal Mejibri sent off for a second bookable offence.