A goal from Jack Sowerby ensured Fleetwood Town made three consecutive league wins, as they took a step closer to survival with a 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow on Saturday.
In a chaotic game which was played in awful conditions, Sowerby showed great strength to beat off his marker and scored the decisive winner after 21 minutes.
Torrential rain saw the referee halt the match in the second half to allow the pitch to be cleared of standing water before play could continue, but that didn’t hinder Town, who held on for another win, and a fourth clean sheet on the bounce.
John Sheridan named an unchanged side to the one that beat Northampton Town 2-0 at Highbury last Saturday, with Nathan Pond retaining his spot as captain at the heart of the defence.
AFC Wimbledon adapted to the boggy surface well early on and played some neat passing play inside the Fleetwood half. Lyle Taylor forced his way into the Town area, with a huge deflection from Harry Forrester’s strike hitting him and forcing a wrong-footed Alex Cairns into a difficult catch.
Ash Hunter had Fleetwood’s first effort as he forced a diving save from George Long in the Dons’ goal with a thunderous effort.
Town produced some wonderful play to set up another good chance, which saw Toumani Diagouraga lay the ball of Sowerby, who then struck just wide with a curling 25 yard effort.
That was a sign of things to come, as Fleetwood took a deserved lead through Sowerby. Good strength from Sowerby saw him battle away the tussling defender inside the Wimbledon penalty area, after a through ball from Conor McAleny, and fire past Long with a brilliant finish.
Wimbledon reacted well to going a goal down, and could have equalised had Egli Kaja’s low drive been a few inches to the right, but thankfully for a diving Cairns, the ball skimmed wide.
The hosts then missed a golden chance when Taylor was left unmarked from a free kick, allowing him to acrobatic fire towards goal. Luckily for Fleetwood, he had his angles all wrong.
Paddy Madden was causing problems for the Dons’ defence, and rose highest from a Hunter cross. The offside flag would have denied Madden had his header been on target, but it was just over. Still, the attacking intent was there.
With the rain continuing to pour in London, the second half started with the grey cloud still lingering above Kingsmeadow. A goalmouth scramble had Fleetwood under pressure inside the first few minutes of the half, but Town coped well and were able to break.
Dempsey drove forward, but his cross was heavy for the three Fleetwood players on the attack, and it went out of play. Hunter then whipped a free kick into the area, allowing Cian Bolger to leap above the rest, but he nodded wide
A large puddle that had formed in the middle of the Fleetwood half was wreaking havoc for both sides, with Taylor the lucky recipient of the stray ball, that allowed him to go through one on one with Cairns, A last ditch challenge from Pond saved the day for Town.
Cairns then produced one of his trademark wonder saves to deny Taylor inside the area, as the Wombles piled on the pressure.
Liam Trotter then unleashed a pile driver from around 35 yards out, which flew narrowly over.
The referee stopped play midway through the second half, summoning an army of ground staff onto the pitch to help drain the standing water away. After a small stoppage, play resumed with a slight improvement on the surface.
Wimbledon continued their pressure after the stoppage, with Dean Parrett forcing another save from Cairns.
Against the run of play, Fleetwood were able to break as Bobby Grant held up the ball well in midfield before it found its way to Hunter just outside the area. He was able to turn in the box, but his shot was well stopped by Long.
Town were made to hang on as the game ebbed into five minutes of stoppage time, with the hosts throwing everything they had at Sheridan’s side.
Fleetwood were able to deal with the pressure though, and held off the Dons through the additional time to ensure Sheridan remained unbeaten as head coach.
AFC Wimbledon: Long (GK), Fuller ©, Meades, Oshilaja, Nightingale, Parrett (Robinson), Soares, Trotter, Forrester (Barcham), Taylor, Kaja.
Subs not used: McDonnell (GK), Francomb, Abdou, Sam, Kennedy.
Fleetwood: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Eastham, Pond ©, Dempsey, McAleny (Hiwula), Bolger, Diagouraga, Madden (Grant) Hunter, Sowerby.
Subs not used: Neal (GK), Burns, Glendon, Jones, Biggins.
Attendance: 4,378 (77 away)
Referee: C Breakspear