Lincoln boss Michael Appleton was happy to see his substitution pay dividends to help secure the 2-1 win over Northampton at the LNER Stadium.
Appleton sent on midfielder Conor McGrandles midway through the second half and he bagged the opener seven minutes later to ensure the Imps kept pace with Hull at the top of League One.
Anthony Scully made sure of the three points late on before Danny Rose struck a stunning consolation for the Cobblers at the death.
“I felt we needed a little more running beyond the strikers and he (McGrandles) gives us that,” enthused Appleton afterwards.
“We’re good at switching play and it’s important to utilise the space created from doing that. He’s got the legs and the athleticism, which gives us more impetus in those advanced areas.
“I was delighted with the second half because until then I thought we looked like a side who hadn’t played for 10 days. At one point it looked like it was going to be one of those days – their keeper made a few good saves and Cian (Bolger) got a couple of good blocks in.
“Once we went ahead though I don’t think the result was ever in any doubt.”
A dull first half saw Lincoln defender Joe Walsh go closest to breaking the deadlock, but his close-range effort was somehow kept out by Jonathan Mitchell.
McGrandles joined proceedings in the 68th minute and tapped home his first goal for the club from close range following good work on the left by Jorge Grant and Tayo Edun.
At the other end Sam Hoskins struck the post with a turn and volley from 30 yards out, before seeing his penalty appeal waved away after going to ground under the challenge of Liam Bridcutt
Scully made sure of the points with his 10th goal of the season – emphatically firing home from Tom Hopper’s unselfish pass, whilst Cobblers’ substitute Rose halved the deficit six minutes into injury time with an incredible overhead kick from the edge of the area.
Northampton boss Keith Curle was upbeat despite his side’s defeat.
“I thought we started very well and credit to the new lads because they didn’t look out of place at all,” he said.
“We used the ball very well and had some good passages of play. It boiled down to fine margins in the end. Hoskins had a speculative effort that hit the post and had that gone in, we would have got a deserved draw from today’s encounter.
“I thought we had the lions’ share of the first half and they didn’t really open us up other than the two goals they scored. It was a credible performance against a side who tend to dominate possession and play.”