A Neal Eardley wonder strike on the brink of half-time was the difference as Cheltenham Town narrowly lost to Lincoln City in a close Sky Bet League Two encounter at Sincil Bank.
After an even opening 44 minutes, where the Robins did well to nullify Lincoln’s threat, Eardley smashed in a stunning strike from distance to put the hosts ahead deep into first half added time.
Cheltenham pushed hard for a leveller in the second half but Imps goalkeeper Ryan Allsop stood firm when both Sanmi Odelusi and Mo Eisa were played clean through on goal to help his side hold on for a first home victory over the Robins in 18 years.
Manager Gary Johnson made two changes to the team that started in the 5-1 weekend victory over Port Vale, as Nigel Atangana and Elijah Adebayo replaced Odelusi and Brian Graham at Sincil Bank.
Taylor Moore and Danny Wright, who scored the winner when the sides last met, also returned to the bench after serving three-match suspensions.
The Robins went into the match unbeaten at Sincil Bank in seven meetings, a record that stretched back to 2000, but knew they would face an uphill task against the in-form Imps, who had only lost at home twice this season.
Michael Bostwick had the first chance for Lincoln, heading a corner wide as the hosts started on the front foot in front of a noisy home crowd.
With five minutes gone, Danny Rowe then cut inside and flashed a cross-shot over the crossbar before an important header from Atangana denied a tap in at the far post.
Scott Flinders then produced a brilliant save on his goal-line to smother a close range shot from Matt Green, after Matt Rhead headed the ball down to him deep inside the Cheltenham penalty area.
Eisa had the Robins’ first chance of the game after 12 minutes when Adebayo played a neat through ball into his path, but Allsop pushed the shot away at a tight angle before the rebound was eventually cleared.
Ilias Chatzitheodoridis then nearly played Eisa clean through but the ball bobbled into Allsop’s hands as Johnson’s side sought to go ahead against the run of play.
The match settled down after an entertaining opening half an hour as Green forced Flinders into making a great save when his powerful header looked goal bound.
But Danny Cowley’s side finally broke through deep into first half added time when Bostwick set up Eardley, who thundered in his first goal of the season from fully 30-yards-out to send the near sell out home crowd wild.
Wright replaced Adebayo up front ahead of the second half as Cheltenham looked to get back the game, but the Imps remained on top in the early periods after the interval.
Green and Rhead were proving to be a handful for the visiting defence, but the Robins were far from out of the contest.
A Kevin Dawson free-kick was hooked back across the face of goal by Atangana but despite wrestling with Sam Habergham at the far post, Will Boyle failed to make a connection.
Both sides made further changes with an hour played as Odelusi replaced the Atangana, while Rhead was brought off in the place of Ollie Palmer, who looped a header onto the roof of the net just moments after being introduced.
Palmer then powered another header towards goal, this time on target, but Flinders pushed the ball over for a corner before Bostwick stretched but failed to get a volley on target.
Then came a massive double chance for Cheltenham, as Odelusi was denied one-on-one by Allsop, before the frontman nearly picked out Boyle at the back post again.
Eisa was then released on the right-hand side but, despite having two players in support unmarked in the six-yard-box, he opted to shoot and Allsop saved at his near post.
Dawson then drove a long-range effort wide late on before Green smashed a half-volley marginally over the top as the Imps held on for three points on a cold night in Lincolnshire.
LINCOLN CITY: Allsop (Gk), Habergham, Waterfall, Wharton, Pett (Whitehouse 90), Rhead (Palmer 59), Green, Bostwick, Eardley, Rowe (Anderson 36), Woodyard. Subs not used: Farman (Gk), Long, Williams, Stewart.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Grimes, Atangana (Odelusi 60), Pell, Dawson, Winchester, Adebayo (Wright 45), Boyle, Eisa, Rodon (Moore 81) Chatzitheodoridis. Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Sellars, Graham, Onariase.
REFEREE: Sebastian Stockbridge
ATTENDANCE: 7,891(108 from Cheltenham)