The Imps were beaten at Burton Albion and, despite a much improved second half, were unable to force a way back into the game.
Burton started the match on the front foot and caused City a few problems from a corner routine which had to be cleared off the line twice before Jonny Smith fired over the crossbar from just inside the area.
The early pressure paid off for the hosts who went ahead after five minutes following a quick one-two between Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Tom Hamer which saw the latter cross in towards Sam Hughes to head past Rushworth who could not quite get a hand to it.
The Brewers looked to cause more issues from a corner in the 14th minute as Terry Taylor’s inswinging delivery found the head of Deji Oshilaja whose header took a deflection before being saved by Rushworth.
Burton scored a second when Jonny Smith brought the ball in from the right wing before bending a stunning left-footed shot into the top left corner of the net from outside the box.
Dino Maamria’s side were awarded a penalty after 27 minutes as Paudie O’Connor was judged to have brought down Hughes. Victor Adeboyejo took responsibility and rifled it high into the net to extend the hosts’ lead.
City were much improved in the second half and stood up to the hosts. The Imps had a chance to pull one back in the 63rd minute following a break away which saw Ben House lay the ball off to Charles Vernam to strike a fierce effort from just outside the area which had to be beaten away by Ben Garratt.
Diamond forced a save from the keeper after 68 minutes with a low drive which forced a good stop from Garratt.
City put Burton under more pressure as Virtue’s 20-yard shot went wide before Bishop’s first-time effort from just inside the box was blocked away.
Burton Albion: Ben Garratt, John Brayford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Deji Oshilaja, Sam Hughes, Jonny Smith, Victor Adeboyejo (Mustapha Carayol 90+4'), Corrie Ndaba, Terry Taylor, Tom Hamer, Bobby Kamwa (Joe Dodoo 72’). Subs (not used): Viljami Sinisalo, Joe Powell, Adrian Mariappa, Davis Keillor-Dunn, Tyler Onyango.
Goals: Hughes (5’), Smith (14’), Adeboyejo (27’).
City: Carl Rushworth, Regan Poole, Adam Jackson, Max Sanders (Lasse Sorensen 46’), Charles Vernam (Ted Bishop 65’), Tom Hopper ©, Paudie O’Connor, Joe Walsh (Ben House 36’), Sean Roughan, Matty Virtue, Jack Diamond. Subs (not used): Jordan Wright, Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Jamie Robson, TJ Eyoma.
Attendance: 3,687 (946 away).
Referee: Ben Toner.