A horrendous injury to Scott Laird overshadowed a goalless draw dominated by North End at Deepdale.
A disgraceful challenge by Jamal Campbell-Ryce in injury time meant the North End No.3 was taken away on a stretcher at the end of a game where North End had dominated proceedings, only to find the visiting keeper in fine form.
The first half was almost a repeat of the clash with Brentford, with North End frustrated by an excellent goalkeeping display by the visiting custodian, after dominating possession and chances.
It was a positive, forward-thinking display from Graham Westley’s men, with the gaffer including Akpo Sodje in a 4-3-3 and Lee Holmes left on the bench.
The chances started early, with Scott Laird flashing a volley across the face of goal after good hold up play by Akpo Sodje. And it was a reverse of that combination that brought the first clear cut opportunity, with a cross-field ball from John Welsh finding Laird in space on the left. He cut back onto his right foot and delivered into the box to where Sodje got a strong, clean connection, but couldn’t direct his header on target.
On the quarter hour mark North End won their first PNE corner, after well-worked free kick when Leacock had brough down Beavon. The corner eventually found its way back to taker Nicky Wroe, whose powerful low shot was well saved by Bialkowski at his near post.
And the keeper was in fine form again on 18 minutes after a superb slick move from the Lilywhites. A Monakana corner was headed down by Jack King, and Wroe’s half volley was pushed away by the keeper. And from the corner Chris Robertson dragged a shot wide after more good play.
After half an hour, North End – who were 62 minutes away from 3,000 without a spot kick at the start of play – had strong shouts for a penalty when skipper John Welsh was seemingly fouled after a good pull back by Laird from quick free kick to the left. From the resulting corner taken by Wroe, King headed against his own man from close range.
Ten minutes before the break, persistence from Stuart Beavon, saw the front man nick the ball as Bialkowski tried to pass out. Eventually the No.29 got a shot away, but saw it headed off the line by Gary Liddle.
From the latest corner, a brilliant low ball from Wroe was dummied by Monakana, and shot by Beavon cleared off line, again by Liddle.
North End started the second half in the same vein with Jack King twice going close, however, the pack was needed to be reshuffled with ten minutes of the half gone; Keith Keane picking up a knock and Bailey Wright replacing him.
King, playing between the forwards and the midfield was getting chances and vollyed just over after Sodje's clever knock down just before the hour mark.
With 20 minutes left Stuart Beavon worked an opening for himself, forcing the keeper into another sharp save low to his right hand side.
Lee Holmes replaced Jack King with just over 15 minutes left, with North End going 4-4-2 and Graham Cummins was also added to the forward line with eight minutes left, replacing Akpo Sodje in attack.
A superb save by Bialkowski denied Wroe and then a block by Sheehan kept out Monakana, before Laird fired over, as North End powered forward looking for a winning goal in the final five minutes.
Four minutes of stoppage time was added on by the match official and North End had a corner in front of the Town End won by Bailey Wright. From Laird's delivery they had the ball in the net through Nicky Wroe, but the referee saw something in the build up and blew for a foul.
In injury time a disgraceful foul by Jamal Cambell-Ryce appeared to have done severe damage to Scott Laird, earning the forward a straight red card. Seven minutes of treatment by medics was needed before he was eventually carried away in severe distress.
The resulting free kick was almost an after through. Nicky Wroe's delivery cleared from the line with Graham Cummins seemingly hauled down, whilst Scott Laird was taken to the ambulance.
: Simonsen, Keane (Wright, 55), Laird, Wroe, Huntington, Robertson, Monakana, Welsh, King (Holmes, 74), Sodje (Cummins, 82), Beavon. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Amoo, Cummins, Byrom, Wright, Elding.PNE Line-Up
: Bialkowski, Sheehan, Bishop, Leacock, Liddle, Judge (Labadie, 88), J Hughes, Zoko (Campbell-Ryce, 63), Arquin (L Hughes, 63), Regan, Boucaud. Subs not used: Kelly, Showunmi, Mitchell, Mahon.Notts County Line-Up
: 8,013 (212 away fans)Attendance
: Mr T HarringtonReferee