BY RICHARD CAWLEY
AFC Wimbledon’s League One survival prospects were dealt a huge blow as they went down to a clear defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town.
The Dons are eight points adrift of League One safety after Plymouth Argyle’s victory tonight and never looked like coming back from Ched Evans striking twice before the interval.
Substitute Ashley Hunter also got on the scoresheet in the closing stages.
It was anything but the ideal warm-up for Saturday’s FA Cup visit of Premier League West Ham United. But of graver concern is that Wimbledon are facing a huge challenge to avoid relegation to League Two.
The Dons’ first-half performance was greeted with boos by the fed-up home support.
They lacked any impetus or energy to their display with only Andy Barcham offering any kind of threat.
And with such a toothless opening 45 minutes, to be trailing 2-0 was anything but encouraging in terms of a comeback.
Evans twice pounced close range to put Fleetwood in a commanding position.
First Ross Wallace’s rasping strike came off the inside of the right post and the striker finished emphatically.
And the situation worsened on the half-hour mark. Wes Burns’ low cross was struck goalwards by Paddy Madden and although Dons keeper Aaron Ramsdale pushed it away to his right, it only teed up Evans for a simple finish.
Ramsdale saved from Ashley Nadesan to prevent the half-time deficit being even greater as Fleetwood countered in numbers.
All Wimbledon had to show for their laboured efforts was a curling strike by Joe Pigott which Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns claimed comfortably.
Ramsdale denied Evans a hat-trick early in the second half, doing well to block a close-range hit from the forward after a sharp turn inside the penalty area.
Wimbledon boss Wally Downes made a double change with Jake Jervis and Barcham making way for Dylan Connolly and Anthony Wordsworth.
New recruit Connolly flashed a great ball across the face of goal which nobody could get on the end of.
The Dons made a mess of possession in the Fleetwood half but another break by Madden – who had fed Nadesan’s first-half chance – drove wastefully straight at Ramsdale.
Fleetwood ended any doubt about the destination of the three points with eight minutes of normal time left.
Ramsdale reacted to push away Evans’ close-range effort but Town substitute Hunter reacted quickly to nod in the loose ball.
IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD