AFC Wimbledon 0 Fleetwood Town 3: Ched Evans back with a brace as Town climb table
Ched Evans marked his return to the starting line-up with a first-half double as Fleetwood exorcised their demons and beat bogey team AFC Wimbledon.
But a Town side that had failed to win in eight attempts on the road in the league prior to this clash with the bottom club recorded a convincing win at the Cherry Red Records stadium.
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton made one change from the side that drew 1-1 at Rochdale.
Lewie Coyle was sent off that day for a foul on Joe Rafferty.
Town had appealed that decision but were unsuccessful, meaning a three-match ban for the Leeds loanee and a switch to right-back for Wes Burns.
Burns had played there for former club Bristol City but not for Town, but the forward took to the role like a duck to water and impressed in the first half as he dominated that flank
In truth Town did not miss Coyle in that first half as Burns impressed.
Ched Evans returned from his two-match suspension to start in the middle of a front three.
And it would be Evans who stole the headlines with two tap-in goals.
In the 3-2 FA Cup defeat to the Dons at Highbury, Town were guilty of wasting chances.
But they were clinical in the capital as they steamed into a 2-0 lead.
It was a scrappy opening but Town’s pressing play soon saw them reap their rewards in the snow.
And Town punished the Dons by scoring from their first potent attack.
Ross Wallace found himself in space outside the box and his curling effort crashed against a post.
Fortunately it fell straight into the path of Evans, who slid the ball home in the 19th minute.
Town had pressed the Dons and as soon as they got that vital first goal they smelled blood.
It was Ross Wallace again who showed his higher-level class as he cut through the Dons like a hot knife through butter.
He chipped the ball over a host of blue shirts to the unmarked Paddy Madden in the box.
The striker is famed for his firs- time efforts but his strike just dropped on to the roof of the net.
But Town had their second moments later.
It was James Wallace’s turn to pull the strings in the middle.
The midfielder slid the ball over to Burns on the right and he fizzed in a teasing ball that Ash Nadesan stepped over and Madden thrashed towards goal.
The effort rebounded to Evans, who fired home from close range in the 30th minute as he celebrated his return with his 12th goal of the season.
Nadesan should have opened his Fleetwood Town account just before the break when sent clean through by Madden, who unselfishly slid him in.
But the Town forward, on only his second league start for the club, was thwarted by Aaron Ramsdale.
Town have dropped 21 points from winning positions this term and if games had ended at half-time Town would be in the top four.
But despite another 15-minute lull at the start of the second half they managed to show they have game management skill.
The Dons asked questions but Fleetwood defended admirably to deny them any chances.
Dylan Connolly alone threatened as his ball from the right fizzed tantalisingly across goal. Town were soon back on the attack as Madden led a breakaway.
He had Nadesan for company but went for goal himself, firing straight at Aaron Ramsdale.
Ash Hunter has found himself on the bench in recent weeks, harsh given his impact on Town’s goals.
But the forward proved a point by netting within three minutes of coming on.
Evans’ header was just tipped away by Ramsdale as he went for the hat-trick but Hunter was on hand to nod home the rebound in the 83rd minute.
It was a rare header from the paceman and a fine away performance by Town, who picked up their first three points on the road since the 4-0 win at Doncaster Rovers in early October.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Burns (Sheron 86), Eastham, Morgan, Husband, Holt (Biggins 76), J Wallace, R Wallace, Nadesan (Hunter 81), Evans, Madden
Wimbledon: Ramsdale, Watson, Kalambayi, Thomas, Oshilaja, Nightingale, Hartiga, Jervis (Connolly 58), Pinnock, Barcham (Wordsworth 58), Pigott (Wood 84)