Fleetwood Town’s Emirates FA Cup journey came to an end after losing 3-2 to AFC Wimbledon at Highbury on Saturday afternoon.
The Cod Army trailed by two goals after Andy Barcham and Anthony Hartigan’s goals either side of half-time, before Paddy Madden and a Ched Evans penalty made the game all square.
However, a 88th minute strike from Kwesi Appiah saw the visitors progress into the fourth round for the first time, with Fleetwood knocked out in cruel fashion.
Joey Barton made two changes to the side that started the game against Shrewsbury on New Year’s Day. Ash Hunter and Dean Marney were brought into the starting eleven, with James Husband and Harrison Biggins moved to the bench.
Hunter got the first chance of the game in the eighth minute, after he hit a venomous strike on target, from outside the area. Aaron Ramsdale could only palm it away from goal but eventually got down to smother it.
Town had another chance, four minutes later, when a long ball from Alex Cairns picked out Evans who was able to fire two shots at goal, but both were blocked.
Barcham put Wimbledon in front in the 17th minute, capitalising from their first attack, as the winger fired a volley past Cairns thanks to a brilliant turn inside the box.
Fleetwood almost equalised shortly after but Craig Morgan’s header could only guide Hunters freekick onto the crossbar, it didn’t matter anyway as the centre back was flagged for offside.
Town had another chance when Wes Burns came close but his effort from inside the area was just wide. The Cod Army continued to pile pressure on Wimbledon’s defence with three consecutive corners, but none of which troubled Ramsdale in net.
James Wallace then slotted Evans through but the striker’s shot was saved by the foot of Ramsdale which meant Hunter could pounce on the loose ball, although his effort could only force another save.
The home side came close once again, when Hunter fed the ball to Madden, on the edge of the box, who then backheeled it through Evans. The striker was able to play it across the six-yard-box back to Hunter, but he couldn’t keep his shot down and fired over the bar.
Fleetwood experienced a good spell of possession straight out of the blocks but couldn’t make many chances. Eventually, it led to a chance for Burns who could only force a save from Ramsdale.
The Dons doubled their lead, against the run of play, after Appiah pulled it back to Hartigan who drilled it low and hard into the net, in the 55th minute.
Burns had the chance to get Town back into the game after he met substitute Harrison Biggins’ cross, but his header was parried away from goal. However just five minutes later and Fleetwood Town did get their first of the game thanks to Madden.
Ross Wallace’s free-kick was initially met by namesake James, but his header was saved by Ramsdale but only into the path of Madden who slotted home, to make it 2-1 in the 69th minute.
Three minutes later and Evans was brought down in the box after cutting inside, giving Fleetwood a penalty, and an opportunity to equalise. Evans stepped up and did not disappoint, sending Ramsdale the wrong way, getting the equaliser.
Madden almost got his second of the game, but his shot went over the bar. The Irishman then played strike partner Evans through, who forced a low save from Ramsdale, yet again.
AFC Wimbledon got their third and the final goal of the game, putting the Dons into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, after Appiah fired a shot into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Eastham, Burns, Evans, Madden, Morgan (C), Hunter, R. Wallace, Marney (57’ Biggins), J. Wallace.
Subs not used: Jones (GK), Holt, McAleny, Taylor, Husband, Sheron.
AFC Wimbledon XI: Ramsdale (GK), Watson, Thomas (31’ Trotter), Kalambayi, Purrington, Nightingale (C), Pinnock, Hartigan, Wordsworth, Barcham (81’ Jervis), Appiah.
Subs not used: McDonnell (GK), Garratt, Sibbick, Wood, Egan.