Fleetwood Town 2 Rochdale 1: Ched Evans is Town’s hero with a late Highbury winner

Fleetwood Town's Danny Andrew scores his side's first goal
Fleetwood Town's Danny Andrew scores his side's first goal
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Ched Evans was the late hero for dominant Fleetwood as they came from behind to eventually see off gutsy Rochdale.

Evans’ clinical headed finish with just three minutes left on the clock handed the Cod Army another well-deserved three points.

They also extended their impressive unbeaten home record so far this term.

Cod Army boss Joey Barton made three changes to the starting XI following the previous weekend’s 3-3 draw at Southend United.

Goalkeeper Matt Gilks dropped to the bench, with Alex Cairns stepping up, while Harry Souttar returned and Evans was back in to replace Paddy Madden.

Wes Burns also made his 100th league appearance for Fleetwood at a sun-drenched Highbury Stadium.

The hosts threatened first after five minutes.

Danny Andrew turned smartly inside Rochdale right-back Luke Matheson before curling in a right-footed effort which went narrowly the wrong side of the post.

However Rochdale, who have travelled well so far this term, broke the deadlock just three minutes later.

Matheson headed the ball precisely into the path of Rekeil Pyke, and he steadied before firing low past Cairns from six yards.

Fleetwood came close to a swift response when Burns dragged a shot disappointingly wide after pouncing on a poor Rochdale clearance.

Rochdale had their tails up, though, and Ian Henderson almost made it two when he somehow managed to scoop a shot over the top from five yards out.

On the sidelines, an animated Barton was clearly showing signs of concern, but he needn’t have done as Fleetwood levelled in the 22nd minute.

No-one picked up Andrew at the far post as he coolly converted Burns’ outswinging cross.

Kicking into the breeze in the opening period, the Cod Army were now on top, and Evans almost made it 2-1 as his well-struck effort just cleared the crossbar.

Fleetwood took a while to get going at the beginning of the second period, with both sides seemingly intent on settling for possession rather than a cutting edge.

Barton turned to Madden close to the hour mark in a bid to reignite the attack.

Just before he entered the fray, Josh Morris curled in a strike from distance, with keeper Robert Sanchez being forced to dive full length to save.

In the 63rd minute the hosts fluffed a free-kick chance when Andrew curled frustratingly well over the top from 22 yards.

As Fleetwood began to turn the screw a little with the game heading into the final quarter, skipper Paul Coutts saw a powerful goalbound shot bravely blocked by Callum Camps.

Now into the final 20 minutes, the Cod Army went close when Evans met Morris’ inswinging free-kick, but couldn’t direct his flicked header on target.

Minutes later Evans was again involved as he only just failed to meet Andrew’s sweeping cross into the box.

With nine minutes to go Madden found himself in space some 30 yards out, but his strike from distance flew way over the top.

That was shortly before Evans darted in to meet Andrew’s cross from the left and powerfully head home the winner.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Coyle, Souttar, Coutts, Andrew, Dunne, Dempsey (Madden 61), Rossiter, Morris (Hunter 72), Burns (Mooney 82), Evans. Subs not used: Gilks, Clarke, Biggins, Sheron.

Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, McNulty, O’Connell (Ryan 18), Norrington-Davies, Williams, Rathbone, Dooley, Camps, Pyke (Morley 49), Henderson (Andrew 66). Subs not used: Lynch, Keohane, Wilbraham, Tavares.

Referee: Graham Salisbury.

Attendance: 3,229.