Notts were beaten 1-0 by league leaders Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium.
Mark Hughes' 10th-minute strike was the difference on a day which saw Jonathan Forte hit the bar and Michael O'Connor make his long-awaited return from injury.
Kevin Nolan made seven changes to the side that drew with Wycombe last weekend. In came Carl Dickinson, Matty Virtue, Liam Walker, Noor Husin, Rob Milsom, Ben Hall and Forte.
Notts made a bright start to the game, Dickinson firing wide and Walker seeing an effort saved in the early exchanges.
But it was the table-topping hosts who would take an early lead, Mark Hughes latching on to Seamus Conneely’s pass to fire the ball past Adam Collin.
Notts came agonisingly close to equalising shortly afterwards when Lewis Alessandra’s volley was diverted on to the cross bar by the stooping Forte. His header crashed off the underside of the bar and was cleared to safety.
Stanley defenders got in the way of efforts from both Virtue and Walker before testing Collin twice in quick succession.
Kayden Jackson’s vicious strike was well tipped over by the keeper, who had to pluck the ball off his own goal line at the subsequent corner.
That was to be the final action of the first half and Notts reemerged unchanged for the second.
They were on the back foot shortly after the restart, however, and had Matt Tootle to thank for a heroic last-ditch clearance after Jackson had raced through one-on-one with Collin.
Sean McConville fired over and Scott Brown’s low effort was gathered by Collin as the hosts kept up their pressure.
And Collin had to come to Notts’ rescue once more when he showed brilliant reflexes to nudge the ball away from Jackson after he had saved Conneely’s initial effort.
Nolan’s first change saw Jorge Grant replace Alessandra down the left moments before both sides missed gilt-edged chances.
Jordan Clark should have scored when Billy Kee cut the ball back for him 12 yards out, but he could only skew his effort wide.
Notts went straight down the other end and crossed for Virtue, who was unmarked at the back post. He headed the ball wide.
Stead replaced Walker in Notts’ next change but the visitors were struggling to stem the tide, Collin making another important save to deny Jackson low down on 73 minutes.
Milsom shaped a long-range effort over the bar before O’Connor made his return to first-team action, replacing Husin.
But it was another substitute who almost gave Notts a late equaliser, Grant spinning in the area and sending the ball just wide with less than 10 minutes of normal time to play.
Jackson found the side-netting in response before the Magpies were given three minutes of added time to find an equaliser.
But they were unable to do so as the hosts took another big step towards the League Two title.