Nelson Oliveira bagged his ninth goal of the season as Nottingham Forest halted a run of four straight defeats with a much-needed 1-0 victory over Preston.
The on-loan Benfica striker settled a tight encounter eight minutes from the break, finishing off a three-man counter-attack to secure the spoils, although it took a brilliant save late on from Dorus De Vries to ensure Forest collected the points.
First-choice goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard returned to replace Chris Kirkland for Preston, following a stomach bug, while Ben Pearson was handed his first start since February 2 at the expense of Alan Browne.
Dougie Freedman made three changes for Forest, bringing Chris Cohen, Chris O'Grady and Robert Tesche back into the starting XI, with Bojan Jokic, David Vaughan and Dexter Blackstock making way.
Oliveira dragged a shot well wide after five minutes and at the other end De Vries had to be alert after Adam Reach nodded Daniel Johnson's free-kick goalwards.
There was a distinct lack of urgency on the pitch and atmosphere off it, with both sides struggling to get into any sort of rhythm as the match proffered up an end-of-season feel to it.
Then, out of the blue in a typical counter-attack that Forest have become renowned for over the years, the hosts took the lead.
Mendes broke up a Preston attack and raced into the visitors' half, with Ben Osborn and Oliveira surging forward in support.
Mendes laid the ball off to Osborn who crossed to the far post where Oliveira had the simple task of slotting into an empty net for a 37th-minute opener.
Mendes should have doubled the lead four minutes after the break but he headed Cohen's free-kick straight at Lindegaard, and a minute later Oliveira was crowded out by the Preston keeper.
Eric Lichaj set Mendes free and the Portuguese winger's fierce volley flew narrowly over and then Preston finally mustered a shot at goal but De Vries easily collected substitute Callum Robinson's effort.
Another Forest counter ended with O'Grady being denied by the legs of Lindegaard as they sought a second goal to kill the Lancashire men off.
Simon Grayson's men nearly equalised in the 70th minute but half-time sub Jordan Hugill was magnificently denied by De Vries as he headed down Callum Woods' cross - the Dutch stopper diving low to his right to somehow scoop the ball off the line.
Michael Mancienne was then alert to block Hugill's follow-up effort.
Mendes again fluffed his lines as he raced forward into the box, opting to pass to sub Jorge Grant rather than shoot and the move broke down.
De Vries came to Forest's rescue again, saving well as Reach chanced his arm from 25 yards and at the other end, Gary Gardner's deflected effort whistled narrowly over from a similar distance.
Source : PA