Notts County 0 - 1 Preston NE
Saturday 26th October 2013 - 15:00 (League One)
A quite dull affair at Meadow Lane, save for several bookings from an over-zealous referee, was brought to life with a magnificent virtuoso substitute performance from Iain Hume. Sixty-three minutes we had to wait for the little Canadian international but what we were treated to from that moment on was Humey at his very very best. He caused problems right along the front line and gave the Magpies defence a real examination the like of which had certainly not been seen earlier in the game. In all honesty Preston had been bland and the game looked to be heading for 0-0 even though the respective keepers had both made a couple of decent saves earlier in the proceedings. The double substitution of Hume and Garner for Beavon and Davies completely changed the flow of the game and gave North End a priceless three points in the East Midlands after they looked like they would only take one.
The game started fairly evenly with North End having the better of the play without forcing the issue too much in the home penalty area. Notts County made five changes from midweek but Grayson stuck with Tuesday night's eleven to give them another chance to show what they could do. In all honesty we were average in the first period in a game littered with fouls and bookings and with no-one making a significant impact on the game. Keane probably had our best chance but fired wide and Rudd had to make one decent save to his left but the referee was the busiest man in a forgettable first period.
After the break both sides upped the ante a little without really making a significant impact but I have to say that the home side played better than their current league position suggests. The game changed dramatically with the visitors' double substitution. Brownhill almost scored after being put through by Hume and in the 74th minute the deciding moment of the game was played out. John Welsh put Laird through down the left hand side and his excellent cross found Hume in the right place at the right time to scoop the loot for North End and send the 901 travellers into raptures. From that moment on every time Hume got the ball there looked potential for something to happen as the little maestro ran the Magpies defence silly with a fantastic thirty minute show. Notts had their chances late on but nothing that really threatened the visiting defence and we held out quite comfortably for our second successive win on the road.
Let us not kid ourselves though, because for an hour we were very average and at least the change might have forced the issue in Simon Grayson's mind about changing the system. One look at the league table makes it difficult to challenge the manager's strategy at the moment but it's clear we need alternatives because there will be tougher days than this on the road for North End in the weeks and months to come. For this week, however, the winning box is ticked again and the man who did the damage at Meadow Lane on Saturday cannot be praised highly enough in my humble opinion. Half an hour of absolute class and quality from little Humey.