A 1-0 defeat to Preston North End sent Notts County out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the area semi-final at Meadow Lane.
A goal in the first half from Paul Huntington was the difference as Notts couldn’t find the equaliser late on.
Preston opened the scoring midway through the first half, a Kyel Reid corner found its way to Huntington, who nodded in from close range.
Notts did have chances to equalise, Haydn Hollis had a header hit the crossbar, whilst Stephen McLaughlin saw his chip go over the keeper, but inches wide of the goal.
The Magpies continued to press late on, but couldn’t get that all important goal, as they were knocked out of the competition.
Four changes were made to the starting line-up by Magpies’ manager Shaun Derry following the 3-0 defeat to Swindon Town at the weekend. Coming into the starting line-up were Taylor McKenzie, Mike Edwards, Michael Petrasso and Alan Smith, replacing Louis Laing, Liam Noble, Drissa Traore and Jake Cassidy.
Following his red card on Saturday, Liam Noble missed out on the area semi-final, Alan Smith taking his place in the first eleven. Taylor McKenzie and Mike Edwards both found themselves in the starting line-up too, to play alongside Haydn Hollis at the back, replacing Louis Laing and Drissa Traore. Also starting was Michael Petrasso, who started from the bench on Saturday, but was brought on at half-time.
Preston got proceedings underway at Meadow Lane, but it was Notts to have the first opportunity only minutes into the game. A long throw from Curtis Thompson was headed by Garry Thompson into the path of Stephen McLaughlin. McLaughlin played an accurate through ball for Michael Petrasso into the area. The winger tried to weave some space for himself, but couldn’t get enough as his shot was saved by Thorsten Stuckmann.
Notts were certainly looking the better side early on, Petrasso again going for goal, his shot from the edge of the area well blocked by the Preston defence.
Preston weren’t prepared to soak in the Notts pressure, and created their first significant opportunity with 13 minutes gone. Josh Brownhill received the ball outside the area and hit a powerful shot towards Roy Carroll. The ball was swerving and Carroll managed to get his body behind it and parry it away for a corner.
With 20 minutes gone, the visitors took the lead. Kyel Reid swung a cross to the far post, and Blair Adams headed it out for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, it was the same man again to whip in a dangerous cross, Roy Carroll came out to claim, but it fell to the head of Paul Huntington who nodded the ball in to give Preston the lead.
Notts were looking to get straight back into the game following the set back. A throw in from Blair Adams was played to Alan Smith, who showed good strength to turn his defender and hit a shot from the edge of the area. However, it flew high and wide of the Preston goal.
A swift counter attack nearly had Notts level with half an hour gone. Blair Adams showed a good burst of pace down the left, driving the Notts side forward, before playing the ball out wide to Petrasso. The QPR loanee had options in the box, but cut inside and hit a shot towards the far corner. It went just wide. McLaughlin was the next to try his luck, his strike from distance going wide.
Minutes later and a free for all occurred in the Preston area. A corner whipped in by McLaughlin found its way to Taylor McKenzie, whose effort was cleared off the line. It wasn’t cleared far as Hollis then headed the rebound onto the crossbar. The ball was then cleared off the line once again before going out for another corner. A real chance for the Magpies to get level.
Preston hadn’t been in the game much at all this first half, but weren’t far away from extending their lead. A cross towards the back post from Scott Laird fell to Andy Little. Little tried to play the ball first time across the box for Jermaine Beckford but it was just out of his reach.
Fantastic wing play from Curtis Thompson opened up the North End defence, but his final ball wasn’t picked up by any Notts players in the box, as Notts went into the break one behind.
HT: Notts County 0 - 1 Preston North End
Kyel Reid had caused the Magpies defence some concern during the first half, and was looking to give them more pressure early on in the second. Picking up the ball inside the Preston half, he showed good pace and determination to get into the Notts box, before going for the near post. Carroll got across well to deny the winger.
Down the other end, a freekick whipped in by Gary Jones was headed just over the bar by Garry Thompson.
Notts were struggling to get in the positions they did in the first half. Preston had much more of grip of the game after the break, Kyel Reid in particular causing the Notts defence problems with his pace.
A long ball from Haydn Hollis was headed back by Garry Thompson for substitute Ronan Murray who was waiting on the edge of the area. Murray delayed his strike before hitting an effort wide.
With 65 minutes gone, Notts County were inches away from taking the lead. A ball was hit for Garry Thompson, who guided it with his head through the Preston defence and into the path of Stephen McLaughlin. With the keeper closing him down, McLaughlin dinked the ball over Stuckmann, but his chip just went inches wide of the goal.
Further substitutions were made by both sides as the game went on without any significant chances. The Magpies were pumping the ball forward to Garry Thompson in search of the equaliser, but they were struggling to win the second ball.
Good determination again from Gary Jones earned his side a free kick as he surged down the right wing to try and create a chance for the home side. The ball was floated over towards the back post and a flap by the Preston keeper allowed the ball to fall for Ronan Murray, who tried to turn his man before being fouled again. The second freekick was easily cleared by North End.
The Magpies continued to press late on, but couldn’t find a clear route through the Preston defence as they stayed strong at the back, and clearing everything the Magpies threw at them.
FT: Notts County 0 - 1 Preston North End