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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
23:04 24th January 2012

First 0-0 Of The Season

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Notts County and Preston North End fought out a goalless draw at Meadow Lane this evening.Four changes were made from the side that drew 1-1 with Milton Keynes Dons, with Alan Sheehan (back from suspension), Ishmel Demontagnac, Karl Hawley and Liam Chilvers coming into the starting 11. Krystian Pearce, Hamza Bencherif and Lee Hughes dropped to the bench, though there was no place in the 16 for Jon Harley.The alterations to the squad, which were seen to be made as a way of keeping players fresh during a hectic part of the calendar, allowed Notts to start with the 4-1-3-2 formation that they ended the Dons game with. Demontagnac partnered Hawley in attack, and the duo were instrumental in threatening the Preston backline in the early stages with their pace and trickery.There were no surprises when the first opening came from one of Demontagnac's teasing runs down the right, which saw him work the ball to overlapping full-back Kieron Freeman. The on-loan Forest defender flashed a low cross across the face of goal and David Gray almost directed into his own net with the clearance.County were getting plenty of joy down the right and a sharp passing move involving Alan Judge, Neal Bishop and Freeman tore apart the North End rearguard in the 17th minute. Freeman, once again, rounded off the move with a pacy, low centre that only just evaded Hawley at the near post, before being hacked away, again, by Gray.Openings were few and far between for long periods, as both sides failed to penetrate the final third during extended bouts of possession. On the occasions that they did, the final ball was lacking, with numerous strong, headed clearances finishing off offences.There were none more important than Gray's 38th minute clearance to deny Judge a certain chance. Hawley had displayed great strength hold off his marker, Clarke Carlisle, to latch onto a pass into the right channel but his deep cross was flicked away by the visitors' heavily involved full-back.From this point, Martin Allen's side began to create more chances, with Judge having a strong hit from range bravely blocked by Craig Morgan and Carlisle flicking away Sheehan's teasing, in-swinging free-kick from the right flank. Hawley also came close before the break, when, with his back to goal, he stooped to head over from Judge's targeted delivery.Gray, from distance, forced the first save of the evening, as County attempted to clear the danger. His half volley took a wild deflection off Bishop but was smartly gathered by Stuart Nelson on his goal-line.Lee Hughes' introduction, at the expense of Demontagnac, lifted the home crowd and the frontman came close to making an immediate impact, after Bishop met his run with a perfectly timed through-ball. Hughes fired a low centre towards Hawley, only for Stuckmann to cut out the danger with an outstretched leg.Shortly after, Hawley held up play in the area and laid the ball into the path of Sheehan, who unleashed a low shot with his weaker right foot that was diverted wide by Carlisle's committed block. From Judge's resulting corner, Chilvers connected with a downward header but Stuckmann was at hand to grip the ball tightly.Against the run of play, Preston had a fine opportunity to take the lead, when Paul Coutts played in substitute Barry Nicholson. The midfielder slotted towards the bottom-right corner, but the effort lacked power and precision.On 83, Ben Burgess, who had replaced Hawley in attack, was presented with the chance to make it 1-0 by his strike partner, Lee Hughes. Hughes had raced down the right to provide a looping cross but Burgess' header was punted clear by Morgan.Four minutes of added time was shown at the end of regulation time and Notts tried out a direct approach in an attempt to snatch all three points at the death. The Lilywhites were able to hold on and the Magpies had to settle for a point in what was their first 0-0 of the season.Attendance: 4,901 (387 away supporters)Man of the Match, sponsored by Chino Latino: Kieron Freeman
    Data provided by Press Association

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