A second half comeback from play-off chasing Port Vale meant that a battling Lincoln City side were beaten for the third game in a row in this Npower League Two clash.
Marc Richards and Doug Loft both netted for the home side in the second period to cancel out Gavin McCallum’s early opener to leave the Imps once again looking over their shoulders towards the relegation zone.
City can at least take heart from a much improved performance compared to the embarrassing 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Rotherham United at Sincil Bank only days before.
The Imps made two changes for the trip to Staffordshire, with Danny Hone being restored to the starting eleven in place of the suspended Patrick Kanyuka, and Josh O’Keefe being drafted in to bulk up the midfield as he replaced Scott Spencer.
There was also a spot on the bench for long-term absentee, Clark Keltie, who had been suffering with a troublesome thigh injury.
Significantly, the influential duo of Ashley Grimes and Stephen Hunt remained sidelined for City and were deemed not fit enough to make the squad.
The Imps made a flying start to the match, clearly intent on proving a point after their previous performance, and took an early lead through Gavin McCallum. Only three minutes had passed when the Canadian got on the end of a Julian Kelly cross to convert his third goal of the season after the Vale defence failed to clear.
City continued to press and could have doubled their advantage when Ben Hutchinson narrowly headed wide almost straight from the re-start as he connected with a sublime Joe Anderson delivery.
After being penned in their own half for much of the first period, the home side could have levelled mid-way through the half as Marc Richards let fly from close range, only to see it smartly saved by the impressive Elliott Parish in the Lincoln goal.
Lincoln could count themselves unfortunate not to be going into the half time break two up, as the final action of the half saw Mustapha Carayol turn his marker inside out before delivering for the on-rushing Adam Watts to stab agonisingly wide.
City once again started the second half brightly, with Carayol seeing a lot of the ball, but were given a scare on 52 minutes when Tom Pope saw his thunderous header cannon off the crossbar and bounce clear to safety.
The Imps luck was about to run out however as the dangerous Marc Richards found space in the box to head past Parish and level the scores just before the hour mark.
The equaliser seemed to give Vale real impetus and it came as no surprise when they took the lead for the first time on 70 minutes. Valiants midfielder, Doug Loft, unleashed a spectacular 25 yard effort which just found its way past the despairing dive of Parish and nestled in the corner of the net.
It was a goal fitting to win any game, and so it proved as the Imps failed to find an equaliser and the home side held on to push themselves into the League Two play-off positions.
For Lincoln, the play-offs seem like a very distant dream and there is still work to do to avoid relegation.
City currently find themselves eleven points clear of the trap-door but will be hoping to put an end to a worrying sequence of consecutive defeats when they make the long trip to Torquay United on Saturday.