Notts County's run of wins was halted by a determined AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court tonight.
In a one-sided opening period, Bournemouth ran riot, creating a host of chances. The first of these saw the influential Danny Hollands convert a corner from close-range.
He then doubled the lead on 35 minutes, when his hopeful effort deflected uncontrollably into the corner of the net, sending Eddie Howe's side into the break two goals up.
After half time Notts fought back, grabbing an early goal, courtesy of Neal Bishop. Despite seeing much more of the action, they continued to hunt for an equaliser, eventually setting up a tense finish that the home side managed to weather to take the points.
Only four points separated the promotion chasing teams heading into this key fixture. An unchanged County, with four games in hand and amidst a four game winning streak, were looking to keep up the momentum as they continue their charge towards the top-three, of which they sat one place and five points adrift of.
The game couldn't have started any worse for Notts, when, from an early corner, Danny Hollands prevented them from making it five clean sheets on the bounce for the first time in 40 years. Leaping almost unchallenged inside the six-yard box, he headed an effort that Kasper Schmeichel was unable to keep out, pushing into the roof of his own net.
Brett Pitman could have added a second for the hosts almost instantly. Stephen Hunt hesitated in dealing with a long ball and was closed down by the striker; however, Schmeichel clutched his stinging strike with ease.
It was certainly a shaky opening by Dave Kevan's team and the Cherries continued to mount pressure. A charged down free-kick on the edge of the area fell to Hollands, with Schmeichel grounded and the goal gaping, but Hunt was on hand to throw his body in the way of the shot to deflect over.
Home goalkeeper Shwan Jalal was largely redundant in the opening stages, his only concerns stemming from a low Bishop cross that was hacked clear from the goalmouth and an untamed Craig Westcarr punt into the stands.
Liam Feeney's long-range attempt came much closer. With Schmeichel springing at full reach towards his top corner, the ball screamed narrowly above the joint of the upright, into the vacant lot behind the goal.
Schmeichel was called into action once more by Marvin Bartley after Pitman's slide pass sent him racing free. The in-form stopper raced sharply off his line and spread himself well to block the low drive with an outstretched leg.
Another save followed from Hollands who prodded a loose ball into the corner, only for Notts' number 23 to desperately clasp away. It was a fine stop, though he was unable to deny Holland's for much longer.
A hopeful Steve Fletcher knockdown saw the goal-scoring midfielder attempt to sweep a shot into the far corner with his first touch. This spun wildly off Hunt's knee, before evading the wrong-footed goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
Second half heroics were needed if Notts were to rescue anything from the tie. From the restart they looked a totally different team, with much more attacking intentions.
Within five minutes the Magpies had a penalty claim turned down and, more encouragingly, pulled a goal back through Bishop - his first for the club. Westcarr had turned sharply inside the box to force Jalal into a reaction save, allowing the former Barnet man to smash into the corner on the follow up.
It could have been short-lived, though, if it wasn't for Schmeichel's fingertips. Feeney had unleashed a stunning strike out of nowhere that led to the 'keeper acrobatically flicking over with the faintest of touches.
Ben Davies nearly levelled moments later, sending an in-swinging delivery towards the Cherries' back post from the left flank. The set-piece had Jalal backtracking and nearly dipped under his bar, looping away after rattling the woodwork.
Kevan instigated changes as Notts continued their search for the equaliser. Removing Westcarr for Luke Rodgers and changing to a 4-3-3 shape that saw Karl Hawley sitting behind the forwards.
Rodgers almost found the net with his first touch, latching onto a Mike Edwards flick-on from a direct pass. His back to goal and from an acute angle, the lively front-man directed a clever, improvised effort over his shoulder, requiring Jalal to spring acrobatically to his right in order to parry over.
Notts continued to probe as time ticked away without causing too many scares. The best hope, it seemed, was Davies' testing offensive deliveries, which were causing Jalal problems.
Hawley also tested the home stopper with a crisp, grounded effort from the edge of the area. Even a final throw of the dice - sending centre-back Graeme Lee up-front - could not salvage a point against the League Two high-flyers.
Man of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, John Thompson (Lee 89), Mike Edwards, Stephen Hunt, Johnnie Jackson, Craig Westcarr (Rodgers 69), Neal Bishop, Ricky Ravenhill, Ben Davies, Lee Hughes, Karl Hawley.
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Graeme Lee, Matt Hamshaw, Ben Fairclough, Jamie Clapham, Luke Rodgers, Ade Akinbiyi.
Scorer(s): Bishop 50
Yellow Card(s): Bishop 65, Hunt 80
Bournemouth: Shwan Jalal, Ryan Garry, Jason Pearce, Rhoys Wiggins, Liam Feeney (Cummings 85), Anton Robinson, Danny Hollands, Marvin Bartley (McQoid 76), Brett Pitman, Steve Fletcher, Lee Bradbury.
Substitutes: Alan Connell, Warren Cummings, Jeff Goulding, Dan Thomas, Josh McQoid.
Scorer(s): Hollands 2, 35
Yellow Card(s): Bradbury 57, Robinson 90
Report by Dane Vincent