Max Sanders' strike ensured City stretched their unbeaten home record at the LNER Stadium with a battling point against league leaders Plymouth Argyle.
The Imps started the match brightly and enjoyed a lot of possession in the opening 15 minutes, with the best chance coming from Charles Vernam whose right-footed shot rose just over the bar from outside the box.
Vernam continued to be a threat in the early stages through some crosses from wide areas that City could not quite turn past Michael Cooper in the Plymouth goal.
Jordan Houghton went close for the visitors in the 21st minute after the ball was played to him on the edge of the box before he curled a low shot narrowly past the far post, which the referee had adjudged to have been tipped wide by Carl Rushworth.
The Imps had a chance to put themselves ahead four minutes later. Vernam’s deep free-kick was nodded back across the box which Joe Edwards failed to deal with, leaving Regan Poole to drive a shot down the middle and force the goalie into a reaction save.
Plymouth almost caught Rushworth off guard just before the half hour mark when a long ball forward was met by Ryan Hardie who got away from Adam Jackson to send a looping header towards goal and cause the keeper to head back towards his line to claim.
Steven Schumacher’s side broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Niall Ennis’ initial shot was blocked, with the ball falling to Adam Randell whose low powerful strike went through the players inside the area and nestled into the bottom left corner.
City almost equalised in the 41st minute when Jack Diamond’s shot across goal was parried into Vernam’s path who failed to turn it into an open net from two-yards out.
In an end-to-end finish to the first half, Rushworth pulled off a spectacular stop to prevent Ryan Hardie’s shot from finding a top corner before Vernam raced in behind the defence to force Cooper into a save at his near post.
Sanders ensured the Imps went into the break level when Vernam’s corner found the midfielder at the back post who took a touch before firing high into the roof of the net past Cooper.
The second half started evenly and it was until the hour mark until either side created anymore clear chances, with Morgan Whittaker striking over from outside the box before Sanders broke into the Plymouth box to force Cooper into a comfortable save.
The Imps held their own against the league leaders and almost went ahead in the 66th minute as a series of City players had shots from inside the area which were blocked by the Plymouth backline.
The visitors could have retaken the lead in the 77th minute after Ennis started and almost finished a counter attack which saw Cosgrove sending a low delivery back across to forward who struck wide of a post from a few yards out.
City: Carl Rushworth, Regan Poole ©, Adam Jackson, Max Sanders, Charles Vernam (Tashan Oakley-Boothe 75’), Paudie O’Connor, Joe Walsh, Jamie Robson, Ben House, Matty Virtue, Jack Diamond. Subs (not used): Jordan Wright, Lasse Sorensen, TJ Eyoma, Sean Roughan, Jacob Davenport, Freddie Draper.
Goals: Sanders (45+1’).
Plymouth: Michael Cooper, Jordan Houghton, James Wilson, Joe Edwards ©, Ryan Hardie (Matt Butcher 66’), Niall Ennis, Bali Mumba (Sam Cosgrove 75’), Morgan Whittaker, Adam Randell, Nigel Lonwijk, Brendan Galloway. Subs (not used): Callum Burton, Macaulay Gillesphey, Oscar Halls, Will Jenkins-Davies, Freddie Issaka.
Goals: Randell (31’).
Referee: Craig Hicks.
Attendance: 9,014 (1,182 away).