North End’s Cup hopes ended at Deepdale as Nottingham Forest progressed with a 2-0 win.
Mackie opened the scoring for Forest with 18 minutes gone, curling into the top left hand corner from the right hand corner of the box and then Darius Henderson scored with virtually the last kick of the game in a match the Lilywhites dominated and deserved more – two controversial penalty shouts not going their way as well as multiple other chances.
The stats said it all with Simon Grayson's men having 63 per cent possession and having 28 attempts to the Reds' six, but they could not get the goals their outstanding play deserved.
The manager had made three changes to the side that beat Forest’s cross-Trent rivals County the previous weekend, one enforced, Craig Davies (Cup tied), Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner replaced by the returning Kevin Davies, Keith Keane and Lee Holmes in the starting line-up.
And it was the Lilywhites who had much of the early play, Holmes heavily involved in the action, seeing a tenth minute corner tipped over the by Dorus De Vries, chosen in goal by Forest, needing to get in a strong punch in the blustery conditions from under his bar. From Kilkenny’s second corner Kevin Davies headed in from close range – but the ball was ruled out for a foul on the Dutch keeper.
Five minutes later and Holmes again went close, a left footed effort from edge of the ‘D’ bent just wide of left hand post.
But it was the visitors who grabbed the opening goal. From the first Forest corner, won by Djamal Abdoun and crossed by the same man, the ball was punched clear by Declan Rudd, but it was collected by Scottish international Jamie Mackie who curled the ball expertly into the top left hand corner from the right hand corner of box.
On the3 half hour mark De Vries made a great save to deny Davies after he managed to get a volley from Holmes’ left wing cross, fouling a free kick to PNE, after foul on skipper John Welsh near the left hand corner flag.
Just before the interval there was a scramble in the Forest six yard box, as Grayson’s side looked the more lively and both Holmes and Keith Keane tried to poke home, but De Vries claimed to relieve the pressure.
Kevin Davies started the second half with a powerful shot that seemed to take a deflection into the side netting after a good ball in to him by John Welsh, but the officials didn’t give a corner.
The same man headed John Welsh’s cross just past the left hand post on 64 minutes as the PNE boss introduced Joe Garner and Paul Gallagher into the action and the tempo and volume inside Deepdale stepped up a notch.
Immediately after the change North End were screaming for a penalty as Kevin Davies’ shot from 15 yards seemed to be clearly stopped by the arm of Greg Halford around the penalty spot, but Premier League referee Jon Moss did not move with all the North End players’ arms in the air.
The pressure from North End continued and another extremely vociferous and strong shout for a penalty came moments later when Wiseman’s cross was blocked by the arm of Dan Harding with 18 minutes left.
Scott Wiseman then fired inches past the left hand post with a low drive from 30 yards, with Forest clearly looking to waste as much time as possible.
The ball was then cleared off the line by Lascelles after De Vries had denied Welsh as the Lilywhites took shots at will in the aim of getting an equaliser.
Joe Garner thought he’d scored with a minute left his shot somehow blocked onto the bar by Lescelles after the front man had beaten three men to wriggle into shooting a position.
Four minutes was added on and balls were thrown forward more and more, but in the final minute Darius Henderson with a sucker punch ended North End’s Cup hopes firing low into the bottom left hand corner from the edge of the box on the break from yet another North End attack.
However, the North End fans rose to a man to applaud their side off at the final whistle, impressed and proud of their team's display, who will want to take that kind of form into League action at Tranmere at the weekend.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Wiseman, Buchanan (Laird, 78), Keane, Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Garner, 66), Welsh, Kilkenny, K Davies, Holmes (Gallagher, 66). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Beavon, King, Hume.
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Harding, Collins, Moussi, Mackie, Halford, Lascelles, Jara, Derbyshire (Majewski, 52), Cox (Henderson, 67), Abdoun (Paterson, 51). Subs not used: Darlow, Reid, Greening, Osborn.
Attendance: 9,744 (849 away fans)
Referee: Mr J Moss