The Imps could not find a way past a determined AFC Wimbledon outfit at the LNER Stadium.
The visitors went ahead after just five minutes, with Aaron Pressley converting cooly from the centre-spot after the visitors were awarded a penalty when Conor McGrandles was judged to have been late with a challenge on Luke McCormick in the area.
McGrandles was insistent he had not made contact with the Dons man, but the decision had been mande. Josh Griffiths dived the right way and was unlucky not to be able to turn the perfectly-placed spot-kick away.
That early strike gave the visitors confidence and something to try and hold onto - with Anthony Hartigan shown the yellow card for time wasting as early as 22 minutes by referee Paul Howard after the Dons man took too long, in the official’s view, to take a corner.
The Imps worked their way into the game after the early setbacks, with Jamie Robson and Lewis Fiorini caught offside.
City’s first chance came after 16 minutes via a good move down the right, with Anthony Scully feeding Lasse Sorensen on the right touchline. His cross was inviting for a full-stretch Ted Bishop, but the summer signing struggled to wrap his left-foot far enough round the ball to get it on target.
The visitors were always looking to break up play but were also equally keen to spring counter-attacks, with Jack Rudoni flashing an effort wide after 26 minutes and Lewis Montsma getting a vital headed interception to block the same man shortly afterwards.
Hartigan set a low free-kick crashing into the LED advertising screen behind Griffiths’ goal, while Luck McCormick could not keep his header under the bar - he was under pressure from Montsma - after a throw-in was flicked on into the area.
The Imps appealed for a penalty of their own when Scully went down under pressure in the area, in the end the ball found its way to Fiorini just outside the area who brought a great diving save from Nik Tzanev in the Dons goal.
The best chance of the opening period for City came four minutes into time added on, with a deep cross from Montsma finding Maguire in space. He took the time to control the ball then, after shaping to cross, tried to catch Tzanev out at the near post - he was alert enough to parry it away although Scully could not get hold of the loose ball.
There was a half-time change for the Imps, with Adam Jackson coming on to replace Joe Walsh.
The Imps were the first to create an opening in the second period, with Scully mazing his way into the opposition area but his delivery was too close to Tzanev to trouble the visiting keeper.
The early pressure was all from the home side, with TJ Eyoma having an effort blocked moments later.
The passing and movement which did not always work in the first half was back on show, with a great counter started from Jackson setting Bishop free down the left. His show was blocked into the path of Fiorini who sent a strong effort wide. Another shot from distance moments later from the on-loan Manchester City man had the same end result.
Bishop’s trickery almost drew the Imps level after 61 minutes, finding his way into the area before almost catching Tzanev out with a low shot which he held at the second attempt.
Rudoni almost caught everyone out with a low effort on the right which almost snuck in at the far post, while Maguire had Tzanev scrambling with a long-distance effort at the other end.
Adelakun, who had come on for Sorensen after 65 minutes, saw a well-stuck effort blocked, but in the end there was no way through for the Imps.
The last chances came in time added on, with Adelakun winning a corner which eventually led to Scully firing over.
Attendance: 7,750 (369 away)