Joey Barton thanks Fleetwood fans and shares their disappointment

Ched Evans' equaliser gave Fleetwood momentum but Wimbledon went on to score the winner
Ched Evans' equaliser gave Fleetwood momentum but Wimbledon went on to score the winner

He had to watch from the stands as his Fleetwood side lost 3-2 to AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup but Joey Barton thanked the fans for their role in Town’s fightback.

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Fleetwood were 2-0 down inside 55 minutes as Andy Barcham and Anthony Hartigan fired home.

But Paddy Madden and Ched Evans got Town back on level terms before Kwesi Appiah’s last-gasp strike secured Wimbledon’s spot in the fourth round.

Barton started his two-game touchline ban following his red card in the 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers at fortnight earlier.

Barton said of the fans: “I thought they were good. They really got behind the team when we were 2-0 down.

“I thank them for sticking with us because it played a huge part in us getting back into the cup-tie.

“Unfortunately for them we could not bring a big side here by seeing the job through.

“I’m disappointed in that regard but the fans turned out and were in full voice when we needed them most, so I thank them for that.”

Barton made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Shrewsbury on New Year’s Day. Left-back James Husband and young midfielder Harrison Biggins moved to the bench as Ash Hunter and Dean Marney returned, the latter following suspension.

Those moves saw Ross Wallace start at left-back as Town returned to a 4-4-2. Barton explained his selection: “Just a lot of games. Biggo has come in and started a lot of games over the Christmas period.

“Hubby is coming back from a hamstring and a lay- off. He played 90 minutes on a heavy Shrewsbury pitch because Ross Wallace had accumulated a bit of fatigue during those games.

“It was just shuffling the squad. When we picked the side, we felt we had more than enough to win it.

“I just think we lacked that little bit of edge in the first half. Second half we had that bit of desire and got ourselves back in the cup-tie.

“It is difficult and you can’t give sides one-goal starts, never mind two.

“We scrapped to get back into it we were the side with the momentum.

“I’m like, ‘We don’t want a replay – let’s get this done.

“We just have to be a bit shrewder. It was a little bit of naivete from us in terms of a second ball coming back in and a good finish from their lad ... disappointed.”