Wycombe Wanderers 0 Fleetwood Town 1: Paddy Madden strikes again after Ched Evans sees red
Paddy Madden’s 19th goal of the season gave 10-man Fleetwood Town a deserved win over fellow League One promotion hopefuls Wycombe at a freezing Adams Park.
Madden grabbed the game’s only goal with 15 minutes to go as Barrie McKay’s clever pass found the striker, who deftly touched the ball past Chairboys' keeper Ryan Allsop.
Earlier, the Cod Army missed a host of chances, with Ched Evans the main guilty party as a string of opportunities failed to find the target in the first half.
Evans’ night went from bad to worse on 68 minutes, when he was sent off after being adjudged to have elbowed Wanderers defender Jason McCarthy.
Fleetwood made a bright start on a chilly night in Buckinghamshire. Madden saw a shot blocked before Wes Burns had a cross deflected out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, a teasing cross from Burns found Evans, who somehow headed wide from six yards.
A minute later, a terrible error by Allsop saw him pass the ball straight to Evans but the keeper atoned for his error by making a smart stop before palming away McKay’s piledriver.
Evans had another excellent opportunity to give Fleetwood the lead on 10 minutes but his downward header clipped the bar after a wonderful cross from skipper Paul Coutts.
Wanderers almost scored against the run of play just before the break. It would have been a goal of the season contender but Alex Cairns brilliantly tipped Josh Parker's rocket on to the crossbar.
Fleetwood had a goal ruled out on 56 minutes, when Evans burst through the middle and squared the ball to Danny Andrew. His low cross found Madden at the back post and he tapped home but the linesman flagged immediately for offside.
A minute later, McKay’s floated cross found the head of Lewis Gibson but his header cannoned off the bar with Allsop floundering.
Evans then saw red but despite that setback Fleetwood continued to chase a winner as Burns whizzed down the right only to see his strike turned over by Allsop.
However, Wycombe served note of their danger two minutes later, when Paul Smyth crossed for fellow substitute and Fleetwood bogeyman Adebayo Akinfenwa, who headed inches wide.
Madden then netted what proved to be the winner after McKay’s touch of class.
Substitute Harvey Saunders came close to making it 2-0 when he lobbed Allsop only for the Chairboys keeper to claw the ball brilliantly off the goal-line.
Town boss Barton was then sent from the touchline for protesting before Cairns produced a brilliant 95th-minute save to deny Anthony Stewart.
The Cod Army then defended stoutly in the dying embers to secure their third successive victory.
Town remain ninth in the table but are now only two points outside the play-off zone ahead of Saturday's home clash with Peterborough United, who have replaced Wycombe in second spot after hammering Southend United 4-0.
FLEETWOOD TOWN: Cairns 7, Andrew 7, Connolly 7 (Sowerby, 90), Souttar 8, Gibson 7, Coutts 7, Burns 8, Whelan 6, McKay 8 (Saunders, 78), Evans 5, Madden 7.
Subs not used: Crellin, Coyle, Morris, Thorvaldsson, Hill.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Allsop, McCarthy, Jombati, Stewart, Jacobson, Gape, Pattison (Onyedinma, 77), Freeman, Wheeler, Parker (Akinfenwa, 65), Samuel (Smyth, 65).
Subs not used: Stockdale, Mascoll, Phillips, , Ofoborh.
REFEREE: Kevin Johnson
ATTENDANCE: 3,286 (Fleetwood 61)