A second half Jimmy Spencer goal wasn’t enough for Notts County as they were defeat 3-1 by Preston North End at Meadow Lane.
The visitors opened the scoring midway through the first half, Jermaine Beckford finished from close range after a great piece of skill in the box.
Their lead was then doubled after Joe Garner fired in from inside the six yard box after Roy Carroll saved the initial effort.
Notts pulled a goal back in the second half, Jimmy Spencer getting his first goal since returning from injury after finishing from close range following a fantastic turn on his defender.
Garry Thompson came close to levelling for the Magpies before Beckford grabbed his second and Preston’s third, thumping a shot into the roof of the net.
Three changes were made by Magpies’ manager Ricardo Moniz for the visit of Preston North End at Meadow Lane on Tuesday night. Following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Crawley, in came Haydn Hollis, Will Hayhurst and Mike Edwards.
With Blair Adams, Mustapha Dumbuya and Paddy McCourt all out for the fixture, Haydn Hollis came back in to the defence, for the first time since the draw with Yeovil, playing left-back. He was joined by Mike Edwards, allowing Jordan Williams to move across to right-back. Hayhurst too started the match, following his substitute appearance at the weekend.
On the bench, Liam Noble returned following an injury, whilst Jordan Cranston was also amongst the substitutes after returning from his loan spell with Lincoln City.
It was a quiet opening to the match, with both goalkeepers failing to be tested. Notts were playing the ball about fairly comfortably, with a patient build up as they looked to exploit the wings. On several occasions, both Will Hayhurst and Graham Burke got crosses into the box, but there was no-one on the end of them.
The first chance did fall to the visitors on ten minutes. Gary Jones fouled on the edge of the box. The ball was whipped in, Mike Edwards couldn’t get enough power in his header as it fell to Joe Garner. The League One player of the year had plenty of space and time to get his shot away, but he fired wide from close range.
Scott Laird was next to try his luck for the visitors. He picked up the ball in the Notts half. He only had eyes for goal as he burst past Graham Burke and hit a left footed effort inside the area. Roy Carroll was equal to it as he collected with ease.
Down the other end, a Graham Burke freekick was whipped in for the head of Haydn Hollis, but the ball glanced the defender’s head and went wide. The Magpies’ continued their pressure. A corner was played short to Jimmy Spencer, he dinked it to the back post for Mike Edwards, but excellent defending denied the centre-back from opening the scoring.
A individual piece of skill did open the scoring for Preston. The ball was fired long for Joe Garner, he played it to Paul Gallagher on the edge of the area. He threaded it through to Jermaine Beckford, who flicked it over the head of Hayden Mullins, before placing it beyond Carroll and into the back of the net.
From there, Preston continued their pressure and grabbed a second just after the half an hour mark. A freekick was whipped in from the right, Jermaine Beckford got on the end of it, his effort was excellently saved by Carroll, but the rebounded fell to Joe Garner, who finished from close range, despite the best efforts of Alan Smith on the goal line.
Notts did try and get their way back into the game. Jordan Williams was fouled on the edge of the box. Burke took it. He got his effort over the wall, but Sam Johnstone caught the shot with ease. It was Burke again who threatened the Preston goal. He picked up the ball on the edge of the area, skipped past Paul Huntington, but fired his shot straight into the hands of Johnstone.
The ball was all with Notts once again. Jordan Williams was next to test Johnstone in the Preston goal. His strike from 25 yard was going into the bottom corner, but the keeper got down well to keep the shot out.
HT: Notts County 0 - 2 Preston North End
Moniz made a change at half-time, bringing Liam Noble on for Hayhurst. He was involved instantly as Notts put pressure onto the North End defence. Hollis played the ball up to Noble on the left. He flicked onto Alan Smith. The ball found its way to Jimmy Spencer, who tried his luck from distance, but it flew over the bar.
Preston too were looking to make the three points theirs. Callum Robinson stung the hands of Roy Carroll after firing from inside the area, with acres of space. Moniz made another attacking change, bringing on Balint Bajner for Mike Edwards as Notts looked to get something from the game. Jimmy Spencer won a freekick on the edge of the box, Noble took it, but his effort clipped the top of the wall and went behind for a corner.
Beckford wasn’t far away from getting his second and Preston’s third of the evening. The ball was played into him, his first touch got him into space inside the box, but Haydn Hollis got across and made an excellent challenge win the ball back and deny the forward from getting his strike away.
Notts had been pressuring Preston all evening and pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to play. The ball was floated into the box. It was cleared to Gary Jones, who clipped it back into the six yard box first time, Jimmy Spencer controlled brilliantly, turned his defender and fired into the top corner to give the Magpies hope.
The goal sparked the Notts players and fans into life as they searched for an equaliser. Johnstone was forced to intercept a Garry Thompson cross before Balint Bajner’s prodded effort was held onto by the keeper.
The equaliser was inches away for Notts, as Liam Noble played Garry Thompson in on the right, he was in one on one, but Johnstone made the save, closing the Magpies top scorer down quickly.
Down the other end, Preston got their third with five minutes to go. Garner flicked the ball onto Daniel Johnson from a goal kick. He played a quick pass with Beckford and got the striker in behind the defence, and he took his chance as he thumped his shot past Carroll and into the roof of the net.
The final stages of the game went without action as Notts looked to pull another goal back, but couldn’t find a way through the Preston defence.
The Aston Villa loanee had a very good game on the left wing for Notts. Constantly taking on the visiting right-back and getting crosses into the box. He did come close to scoring too on a couple of occasions, his freekick saved by Johnstone, and his effort from distance was well blocked. A good game for the winger who showed attacking mentality throughout.