AFC Wimbledon 1 Fleetwood Town 2: Late goal gives Joey Barton’s players three points
Paddy Madden bagged his first goal since Boxing Day in firing Fleetwood Town to victory at AFC Wimbledon.
Madden picked up his 18th goal of the season as the Cod Army closed the gap between themselves and the play-offs to just three points.
Town captain Ched Evans had opened the scoring in the first half before Shane McLoughin’s equaliser for the home side.
Head coach Joey Barton had named an unchanged starting line-up after beating play-off rivals Doncaster Rovers last time out.
Fleetwood took a while to find their feet in the capital and had to withstand some early Wimbledon pressure.
It was almost a devastating start as Paul Osew fired wide in the opening minute.
Left-back Danny Andrew was then let off after being turned by Jack Rudoni with McLoughlin’s shot being well blocked.
The hosts were briefly down to 10 men after a clash of heads between Harry Souttar and Mads Bech Sorensen left the latter with a nasty cut above his left eye.
The Cod Army almost took full advantage with Lewie Coyle’s cutback intercepted as Evans waited dangerously.
The visitors took the lead in the 22nd minute as a real game of pinball ended with Evans bundling home his 10th goal of the campaign.
Barton’s boys were left off the hook on the half-hour mark as Joe Pigott inexplicably headed over from six yards out.
The pressure told in the 34th minute as Rudoni beat two defenders to deliver a pinpoint cross for McLoughlin to head home the equaliser.
Lewis Gibson could have sent Fleetwood into half-time ahead but his left-footed volley flew over, while Andrew’s audacious long-range shot was pushed away by Joe Day.
Fleetwood started the brighter of the two sides after the break with the first chance falling to Glenn Whelan, who scuffed his effort wide.
Barton changed tactics with 25 minutes remaining as he replaced defender Callum Connolly with a striker in Madden and went with two up front.
He was also forced into another change as Coyle suffered a leg injury with Jack Sowerby filling in as an emergency right back.
However, Madden secured the points as he stabbed home at the second attempt from Barrie McKay’s cross.
McKay almost got on the scoresheet himself from 40 yards as he spotted Day off his line but two goals proved enough.
AFC Wimbledon: Day, O’Neill, Sorensen (McDonald 25), Thomas, Hartigan, Pinnock, Rudoni (Lamy 75), McLoughlin, Reilly, Osew, Pigott. Subs not used: Trott, Roscrow, Guinness-Walker, Sanders, Worsdworth.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Coyle (Coutts 75), Andrew, Connolly (Madden 65), Souttar, Gibson, Whelan, Morris (McKay 56), Sowerby, Burns, Evans. Subs not used: Crellin, Thorvaldsson, Saunders, Hill.
Referee: David Rock.