Reuben Reid sealed a 1-0 win for Exeter City against Lincoln City after a hard-fought encounter at St James Park in Sky Bet League Two.
The City striker's excellent first-half goal was the difference between the two sides as the visitors put up a stern test for Paul Tisdale’s men.
The Grecians made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Swindon Town last time out as Luke Croll, Troy Archibald-Henville, and Jake Taylor replaced Jordan Moore-Taylor, Lee Holmes and David Wheeler.
In a first half which didn’t have too many clear chances for both teams, the away side had their first opportunity after six minutes. Neal Eardley’s dangerous cross from the left was inches from Matt Green, as City goalkeeper Christy Pym came out to claim well.
Lincoln then had another good opportunity a couple of minutes later when Green burst down the right to get in behind the City backline. The ball then fell to Michael Bostwick on the edge of the Exeter box, but his effort from distance did little to worry Pym.
Much of the first 20 minutes saw the Grecians struggle to gain a foothold in possession as Danny Cowley’s side kept much of the ball, though were unable to force any clear-cut chances as the City defence battled well.
Paul Tisdale’s side had their first real attempt on goal on 25 minutes after a good passage of play from the Grecians.
Taylor did well to work the ball inside with Pierce Sweeney and drive into the area, but his effort sailed just over Paul Farman’s goal.
Lloyd James then had another effort shortly after for City, who were beginning to strengthen their foothold in the game, but he was unable to keep his low driven effort on target.
More half chances fell for the visitors, and the likes of Green, with the away side again dominating possession towards the end of the first half, but it was City who went ahead three minutes before half time after a fabulous strike from Reid.
On the counter-attack, which proved a regular tool used by Tisdale’s men, Liam McAlinden did well to square it to the City striker to fire into the top corner from a tight angle to register his second goal of the new campaign.
Lincoln were then inches from levelling the match just moments later when a close range free-kick from Jordan Maguire-Drew sailed inches wide of Pym’s post, meaning City went into the break one goal to the good.
The second half took just minutes to liven up with Sweeney going close to doubling City’s lead. After the ball was headed out of the Lincoln box the Irishman’s half-volley from distance was goal bound but for Farman’s intervention to punch over.
Green then had Lincoln’s first chance of the half moments later when he turned in the box to fire a shot towards goal, but for the onrushing City defence, who blocked bravely for a corner.
Both sides then made changes on the hour mark as Holmes replaced Archibald-Henville, who proved excellent in breaking up the Lincoln play in the centre of the pitch.
Substitute Ollie Palmer then almost levelled things immediately after coming on as his effort at goal from close range was, again, blocked bravely by the City defenders.
McAlinden then had an excellent chance in the Lincoln box after finding space thanks to good work from Reid, but the City number 19’s chip towards the back post edged just over Farman’s goal.
The away side then had a couple of good opportunities to test Pym, when Palmer had another shot blocked well by Luke Croll, and Bostwick’s driven free-kick was straight at the City wall.
Determined work from McAlinden then almost saw him rewarded after he won the ball back from the Lincoln defence. The forward then did well to cut in onto his left foot and strike at goal but Farman collected easily.
Reid then had another golden opportunity for City, set up by Jack Sparkes who was introduced for the injured McAlinden. The youngster, who was making his St James Park debut, jinked his way past two players to tee up Reid whose left footed shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Tisdale then introduced Matt Jay from the substitutes bench for the remaining five minutes of the 90, as the Grecians looked to close out the victory against a Lincoln side who were keen to get the ball forward.
Referee Craig Hicks then initiated five added minutes as City continued to battle and protect their advantage.
Exeter City (5-3-2): Pym, Sweeney, Woodman, James, Archibald-Henville (Holmes, 60), Tillson, McAlinden (Sparkes, 79), Croll, Taylor, Reid (Jay, 85), Brown
Subs not used: Hamon, Simpson, Brunt, Byrne
Lincoln City (4-4-2): Farman, Long, Waterfall, Rhead (Palmer, 60), Green, Maguire-Drew (Knott, 67), Bostwick, Eardley, Ragget, Arnold (Anderson, 67) Woodyard
Subs not used: Vickers, Habergham, Whitehouse, Dickie
Booked: Waterfall, Eardley
Attendance: 3,980 (Inc, 316, away)