In a first-half largely dominated by the home team, Vale were under the cosh right from the first whistle, but took a deserved draw into half-time.
It did not take long for the home team to get in to their stride, with the first promising chance coming inside seven minutes.
The chance eventually fell for Josh Ginnelly at the back-post after the ball somehow rolled through the Vale box untouched. Ginnelly got his shot off approaching the by-line, which cannoned off the post and away from goal.
The opener came only four minutes later, but there was time enough beforehand for another nearly moment for the Imps.
Neal Eardley nut-megged Gunning on the right and delivered a deep cross which was met by Matt Rhead, but his header was soft and smacked away from danger by Gunning.
It was Rhead’s strike partner, Matt Green who got the opener, after Harry Anderson this time delivered from the right towards the front post for Green to nod home.
Vale could only improve after the goal, and began to find their feet in the game, with their first effort on goal coming through Marcus Harness. He created some space on the edge of the box for himself, only for his shot to fly over the bar.
The home side continued to threaten more so than Vale, but both teams were creating chances.
With just over half an hour gone, Gunning found himself with a yard of space in the box after some tidy work from Harness on the by-line, but the left-back could not get the ball out of his feet and sliced his effort wide.
Vale nearly grabbed a goal back after James Gibbons rifled a shot goalward from 30–yards after Danny Pugh plucked the ball from the air on the edge of the box, and laid the 19-year old off. The ‘keeper was troubled by the effort, but the ball clipped the top of the crossbar and flew out of play.
Tom Pope then had a great chance to level the score after Worrall delivered a corner from the right, which was met by Pope but his header was cleared off the line.
Vale were finally back on level terms after two promising chances, as Danny Pugh emphatically smashed a left foot volley home from six-yards, following Tom Pope’s back-post knock down.
After a nervy opening 15 minutes cost Vale a goal, they grew into the game and ended the first half with a bang after Danny Pugh’s first goal in Vale colours put the Valiants back on level terms.
HALF-TIME: Lincoln City 1 – 1 Port Vale
As the teams emerged for the second half, Vale’s head of steam that they built towards the end of the first half seemed to have faded as the Imps were again, in the ascendancy.
Lincoln made their pressure count as Vale found themselves behind for the second time in the game seven minutes into the second half, after Michael Bostwick’s long-range effort curled into the bottom corner aided by the post.
Neil Aspin made an early substitution as Anton Forrester replaced Marcus Harness before the hour mark.
Vale’s first chance of the second half came through Cristian Montano, as he ran onto Gunning’s throw-in and got his shot off that was parried away for a corner. The subsequent corner came to nothing.
With 20-minutes left on the clock, Lincoln found their third goal of the afternoon after Neal Eardley’s dead ball cross from the left was headed back across goal for Luke Waterfall to stab home at the far post.
Vale kept up their work rate throughout the game trying to mount any sort of comeback.
Late chances for Pope went begging as he had an effort saved down low to the 'keeper's left, and shortly after had a penalty appeal turned down after he felt he was held back in the Lincoln box.
FULL-TIME: Lincoln City 3 - 1 Port Vale
Lincoln City: Vickers, Habergham, Waterfall ©, Ginnelly (76), Rhead (86), Green, Bostwick, Eardley, Raggett, Anderson (90+4), Woodyard
SUBS: Farman, Long (90+4), Whitehouse (76), Palmer (86), Knott, Dickie, Arnold
Port Vale: Boot, Gibbons, Anderson, Smith, Gunning, Kay, Pugh ©, Montano, Worrall, Harness (57), Pope
SUBS: Hornby, Denton, Yates, Reeves, Tonge, Turner, Forrester (57)
Attendance: 7,562, 557 away.