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Notts County 0-1 Preston North End

Joe Jones

Arguably Notts County's worst game this season, the Magpies lost this crucial game against Preston 1-0, the Lilywhites bad-tempered and the home team just bad, in a performance which disheartened, frustrated and enraged fans. Chris Kiwomya began the game in a 4-5-1 formation. The team was again somewhat depleted, given the absence of Dean Leacock and Alan Judge. Notts threatened first, as Francois Zoko won the team a corner in the second minute, which however didn't come to much. A decent signal of intent, however.

Just two minutes later, Chris Beavon was denied by Manny Smith as Preston won their first corner of the game, and six minutes later, Beavon broke through and took a shot which deflected out for another corner.

The action in the first quarter of an hour, save for the corners, was largely scrappy and dour, until the fourteenth minute when Joe Garner fed through the lively Beavon, whose powerful shot was again blocked by Smith.

Four minutes later, Notts were once again under the cosh, as a headed clearance by Haydn Hollis was met on the volley by Lee Holmes, which flew just wide of the post.

Jamal Campbell-Ryce was then subbed off as an early injury called time to his game, the winger being replaced by youngster Curtis Thompson.

Notts' display was uninspiring and two-dimensional, and the fans in the Kop were genuinely heartened when Notts won a free kick midway through the first half, but before anything could happen after Sheehan's delivery, the whistle blew and the free kick was then given the other way. Cue groans from the Magpies faithful.

To make matters worse, Preston then took the lead through an own goal from the young Hollis. William Hayhurst was given room, too much room, to cross the ball into the Notts six yard box, and the young defender saw the ball ricochet off his thigh into the net. A farcical own goal befitting a farcical display.

More sloppy play from Notts very nearly saw the Lilywhites make it two, as Nicky Wroe's free kick met Holmes, who got two chances to cross, but first Gary Liddle cleared, then for the latter attempt, Bailey Wright couldn't get his header on target.

As the half drew to a close, Holmes and Beavon continued to harass and torment the Notts defence, and the home team, amazingly, nearly found themselves drawing level as sub Thompson was played through by Jeff Hughes, but Declan Rudd saved.

Hughes followed the save up with a volley which bounced off the crossbar, before Zoko brought the whole affair to an anticlimactic end by firing the effort high into the Kop.

There was still time for Preston to nearly score one final time before the half-time whistle, as Beavon latched onto a clearance and, were it not for imperfect control and Bartosz Bialkowski's skill, would have made it 2-0. As it is, Notts were extremely fortunate to go in only a goal down.

The second half began with intent, the young Thompson proving a handful on the wing with some dangerous crosses. Bishop and Showunmi caused havoc courtesy of his assists and very nearly pulled a goal back.

More tedium followed before a classic route one hoof out of the Preston defence saw Beavon beat Smith before smashing the ball towards goal. Bialkowski proved once again the difference between a bad scoreline and a terrible one.

Chris Kiwomya shifted his formation to 4-4-2 as Arquin replaced the lukewarm Zoko. The Frenchman got an early contribution in as he tested Rudd with a powerful volley.

The rest of the game proved testing viewing for the Notts fans to say the least, as the home side couldn't penetrate the Preston defence and ended up playing what some have dubbed the "crab", that is playing the ball side to side.

There was one final chance for Preston to rub salt into the Notts wound as Bialkowski joined the melee that was an injury time corner. Wroe claimed back the ball and attempted a long-range chip, but missed.

The whistle blew to the sounds of boos and the atmosphere of displeasure and bemusement. This abject display of football, combined with the scoreline, means that the play-offs are all but gone. The season can't end soon enough now for the Magpies, given we have eight games left and nine points to make up.

The sole positives to be taken from the game, aside from Bialkowski once again proving to be far too good for this division, is Curtis Thompson's promising, committed debut.

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The match sounded just the same on the radio.Notts seem short on ideas and with no purpose to their play.It's all very disheartening for Notts fans to be so near the playoffs most of the season and and your team just appear to 'throw in the towel'

Thanks for a good write up again Joe.

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Yes good write up as usual, I've been praised via E-Mail for your contributions. (always nice to know)

Paolo Abba - on Facebook said;

always very good articles on PrideOfNott,from the President's interview to the brilliant match report by fans,well done guys!

Just keep plodding away but I'm always grateful mate. You put a lot of effort into your writing and it's great to see. :)

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Glad to see some recognition for the effort put into this site, I just wish viewers would take the plunge and join us on a regular basis, whoever they support.

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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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