Championship promotion hopefuls, Nottingham Forest progressed to the last-16 of the FA Cup after a hard-fought victory over Preston at Deepdale.
The home side had the tie’s first real chance, midfielder John Welsh picking up the ball on the edge of the area before turning and firing a left-footed effort over the bar.
The optimism was short-lived however as Forest went ahead 17 minutes in; Djamel Abdoun’s corner was punched away by Declan Rudd, brought down by Jamaal Lascelles and brilliantly converted by Jamie Mackie.
The visitors were on the back foot for most of the first-half, allowing the hosts to pass the ball around and restricting themselves to counter-attacks.
Neil Kilkenny summed up Preston’s chances in the first-half after he spotted goalkeeper Dorus de Vries off his line and attempted an audacious lob, which flew miles over the bar.
Veteran striker, Kevin Davies, went close to scoring his 150th career goal after half an hour, flicking on Lee Holmes’ free-kick from close range which de Vries did well to palm away.
The former Bolton Wanderers man was lucky not to earn himself an early bath just before half-time after a studs-up challenge on dangerous winger, Abdoun, who went off after half-time as a result.
Davies went close early in the second half, after tidy build up play by the North End midfield, hitting a left-footed shot against the outside of the post.
Goalscorer Mackie nearly doubled Forest’s advantage soon after, picking up the ball on the half-way line and going on a mazy run before the former QPR frontman blazed over.
Kilkenny wasted a great opportunity for an equaliser; side-footing a shot straight at the keeper, displaying just why he hasn’t scored a goal for nearly 3 years.
The Whites were well organised and undoubtedly dominated the second half from start to finish but lacked quality in the final third, with new signing, striker Craig Davies, ineligible to feature.
Leicester loanee Paul Gallagher and Joe Garner were introduced to try to inject the energy required to force home an equaliser and had a penalty appeal turned down soon after; Davies’ shot hitting Greg Halford’s arm.
Gallagher found space with just two minutes left on the clock and hit a speculative shot wide, when bringing the ball into the box would have no doubt resulted in a goal.
Garner was a whisker away from sending the tie to extra time; weaving through the visitors’ defence and hitting a shot which would have gone in were it not for de Vries’ shoulder.
Deep into injury-time, veteran Darius Henderson put the tie beyond doubt, after Tom Clarke’s poor clearance found the striker and he hit a clinical first-time effort beyond Rudd.
Forest advance to the fifth-round and will now take on League One strugglers, Sheffield United next weekend for a place in the quarter-finals.