Eoin Toal delivered a Boxing Day knock-out blow as he struck again at Sincil Bank, writes Pete Oliver.
Toal’s first goal for Wanderers came at Lincoln 12 months ago.
And the defender weighed in again with the late winner that made it two victories in four days for the Whites as they moved level on points with second-placed Peterborough and only and four points off top spot in League One.
Toal’s effort at City last December earned Ian Evatt’s men a point and this time – crucially - it turned one into all three as his header into the same goal as a year ago finally gave Wanderers a fitting reward.
The Whites dominated against a Lincoln side beaten only twice at home this season and which was reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes following a red card for midfield man Danny Mandroiu.
But it took until the 89th-minute for the breakthrough to come as the pressure paid off and Toal nodded in to give Wanderers another morale-boosting win.
Two games into the busy festive programme, Wanderers made five changes to the side that had racked up Evatt’s 100th game as manager at the weekend as the boss called for fresh legs to maintain the momentum.
And it looked a seamless transition as the Whites dominated before the break as they aimed to complete the double over the Imps following a 3-0 home win on the opening day of the season.
With captain Ricardo Almeida Santos back from a ban to control things from the back and George Thomson and Aaron Morley running midfield all of the pressure came from the Whites.
The first chance came Victor Adeboyejo’s way mid-way through the opening half but the recalled striker was crowded out at the decisive moment before the outstanding Thomason released Charles for a low shot he sent just wide.
Charles then returned the compliment by teeing up Thomason for a strike blocked in front of goal before Charles screwed the loss ball just wide as Wanderers were missing only the opening goal from an impressive first 45 minutes.
Having been second best before the break, Lincoln raised themselves following the re-start with Sean Roughan whistling a fierce strike just wide and Mandroiu forcing Nathan Baxter into his first save of the afternoon.
But Wanderers still carried the greater threat as Charles forced Lukas Jensen into a scrambling save and then sent another effort bouncing wide.
Wanderers’ top scorer was always in the thick of the action and moments after Mandroiu had been sent off for catching Morley late he sent a thumping volley just over the top as the Whites looked to make the extra man count in the final 20 minutes.
It was completely one-way traffic as City put everyone behind the ball and defended their penalty area in even greater numbers in an effort to hold out for a point.
Substitute Kyle Dempsey lashed an effort wide and also saw a shot saved by Jensen but with Wanderers’ racking up corner after corner finally the pressure paid off.
Another patient routine ended with the ball going back to Josh Sheehan and this time his delivery picked out Toal to climb highest and steer home a header which sparked joyous scenes in the packed away and kept Wanderers looking up on the back of a very happy Christmas.
Wanderers: Baxter; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Morley; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Sheehan81), Thomason (Dempsey 72), Williams; Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 72), Charles. Substitutes: Ashworth, Iredale, Forrester, Jerome.
Lincoln City: Jensen; Sorensen, Mitchell, O’Connor, Eyoma (Adelakun 92), Roughan; Bishop (Smith 78), Erhahn; Hamilton; Makama (Vale 70), Mandroiu. Substitutes: Wright, Brown, Duffy, Shodipo.
Booked: Makama, Bishop, Eyoma
Sent off: Mandroiu
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 10,064 (1,870 Wanderers)