Abbott finds a way though faltering Forest

Nottingham Forest 0 Preston North End 1
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The Independent Football

If this turns out to be Forest's send-off for Paul Hart, the man tipped to succeed Peter Reid at Leeds will not remember the night with fondness. The team whose stylish football has won Hart so many admirers produced one of the least impressive performances of his 27 months in charge.

Preston's disciplined defensive game was not attractive but deservedly landed a first away win of the season for Craig Brown's side, settled by a first-half goal by Pawel Abbott, an English-born Polish Under-21 international making his first start of the season.

Hart, who had "nothing to say" about Leeds before the game, dodged the issue afterwards. "I don't read the papers so I don't know what's being said," he added. "In any case, my concentration has been entirely on tonight's game."

Having demanded an improvement on their showing in last Saturday's 1-1 draw against Derby, Hart was disappointed to see Preston go ahead after 36 minutes and defend their lead successfully without goalkeeper Jonathan Gould being seriously tested.

Despite missing both their principle strikers, Ricardo Fuller and Richard Cresswell, through injury, the visitors looked the sharper side. Lee Cartwright, Paul McKenna and David Healy (twice) could all have scored before Abbott swept home from close range after a McKenna free kick.

Forest wasted a gift chance when Marlon Harewood, though offside, shot into the side netting after rounding Gould. Danny Sonner then blazed over, although Matthieu Louis-Jean was unlucky to see a header cleared from under the crossbar by McKenna.

Nottingham Forest (4-3-1-2): Ward; Louis-Jean, Thompson, Morgan, Robertson; Sonner, Williams, Reid; McPhail; Harewood, Taylor (Jess, 70). Substitutes not used: Roche (gk), Stewart, Cash, Walker.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Gould; Alexander, Lucketti, Jackson, Broomes; Cartwright, McKenna, O'Neill, Keane (Etuhu, 70); Healy (Edwards, 80), Abbott (Lynch, 75). Substitutes not used: Lonergan (gk), Mears.

Referee: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).