Notts were back on home soil, hoping to build on the two previous wins against Crewe and Tranmere at Meadow Lane. Chris Kiwomya made 5 changes to the team which lost 2-1 on Tuesday at Gillingham - Bialkowski, Smith, Arquin, Campbell-Ryce and Fotheringham being replaced by Spiess, Thompson, Labadie, Coombes and Haynes. With no available senior centre-backs, Sheehan found himself partnering Liddle at the heart of the Magpies' defence with Dumbuya switching to left-back and Curtis Thompson filling in at right-back.
The match itself was a hotly-contested one, with late tackles and battles all over the pitch - most notably between makeshift centre-half, Alan Sheehan and experienced striker Kevin Davies - member of the England one cap club.
The game started brightly enough, former Liverpool youth-teamer John Walsh, firing a shot over, before Kevin Davies slid a perfectly weighted ball into Stuart Beavon's path before Liddle made a fantastic recovery challenge.
Notts' first real effort came via Greg Tempest, controlling a pass from Joss Labadie before his slightly-tame, but accurate shot was parried around the post from the visiting goalkeeper, Declan Rudd.
Adam Coombes showed some flair cutting in from the left, weaving in-between two retreating defenders before scuffing his shot past the post. With Notts retaining possession well but struggling to create any clear-cut opportunities against a well-organised Simon Grayson side, whilst not offering much besides physicality at the other end of the pitch - it looked as if there wouldn't be a great deal of goals on offer.
The sides went into the break on level terms at 0-0, but Notts had a great chance to take the lead minutes after the restart with Celtic loanee, Callum McGregor opting to take the shot first-time on his left foot - unfortunately, firing over from the edge of the box. In truth, this was to be Notts' best chance of the match. Haynes was workmanlike, whilst Boucard and Labadie continued to tip-tap from right-to-left and left-to-right.
However, Grayson's double change after the hour mark proved to be decisive. Bringing on ex-Forest striker Joe Garner, and the aging former Tranmere hitman, Iain Hume.
Joe Garner looked set to put the visitors in the lead, running on to a through-ball before an onrushing Fabian Spiess smothered the shot, the follow-up shot was then blocked and the ball bounced away for a corner (personally, thought the follow-up shot went wide without a touch).
However, it was the other substitute Iain Hume - who made the crucial impact. With Scott Laird (the player who had his leg broken last season by Campbell-Ryce) cutting in from the left (perhaps beating Thompson too easily), before his mis-directed shot across the box was turned in by the aforementioned Hume.
Notts had 15 minutes to respond. Kiwomya brought on a third striker in the form of Murray, with Hamer and Bell being introduced just prior to the goal. Unfortunately, Preston saw out the game and managed to hold on to the 3 points without too much difficulty and condemn Notts to their 10th defeat in 13 games. It looked as if it was a game which looked like 1 goal would win it and so it proved, with Notts' recent record of not scoring against Preston being extended to 6 games.
In truth, if you isolate this performance you would be able to say Notts were unlucky and take the positives from the game. Which there were. The three former youth-teamers Thompson, Spiess and Tempest all put in determined and solid performances with Thompson being the standout with his pace, skill and determination down the right being his greatest assets.
This, coupled with Danny Haynes's performance, who despite not scoring, or even coming close - at last looked as if he had a bit of fire in his belly. Unfortunately, the Preston fan who posted on the forum in the week was proved right, and their habit of winning without being particularly exceptional carries on. Whilst, more worryingly - Notts' trend of losing whilst playing, erm hmm,
well(ish) competantly continues.