Two goals in each half made it an emphatic away win for Bolton Wanderers who ended Fleetwood Town’s 18-game run in clinical fashion with a 4-2 victory at Highbury Stadium.
Goals from Adam Le Fondre (2), David Wheater and Mark Beevers ensured Phil Parkinson’s men returned to winning ways and put them firmly in the mix for automatic promotion.
Club captain Darren Pratley made a surprise return to the starting XI for only his second appearance of the season after recovering from an injury that has curtailed his campaign.
The midfielder came in for Tom Thorpe as manager Phil Parkinson made only the one change from the side that drew to AFC Wimbledon seven days earlier.
The Club also announced the arrival of Jem Karacan on a month-long deal and the former Galatasaray and Reading midfielder found a place on the bench.
After an opening quarter of an hour which offered little in goalmouth action, Wanderers opened the scoring through Adam Le Fondre – his first goal for Wanderers in his second spell.
Dorian Dervite had cleared the danger with a last ditch tackle on David Ball. The ball found its way to Le Fondre who charged down the right flank after a lay off from strike partner Gary Madine.
The on-loan front man’s right footed cross looped over Alex Cairns.
Three minutes later and Wanderers doubled their lead through David Wheater. Filipe Morais’ free-kick found the big defender at the far post who made no mistake from close range for his sixth goal of the campaign.
The crazy spell continued and the hosts reduced arrears two minutes later when Kyle Dempsey curled a right-footer beyond Ben Alnwick after Derik lost possession on the edge of the box.
Wanderers almost restored their two goal cushion when Josh Vela’s probing run culminated in a corner. Le Fondre was inches away from guiding it home before it was cleared. From the resulting corner, Madine headed narrowly wide.
Despite the hosts’ goal, Wanderers’ attacking threat grew as the half wore on and Wheater was unlucky to see his effort cannon off the cross bar from a Morais centre. Madine, just moments later, saw an effort finger-tipped over the bar.
Morais was rampant down the right and looked dangerous every time he got the ball.
Another set piece and another goal for Wanderers has they started the second half in fine style. Within two minutes of the restart their two-goal advantage was restored.
Morais – who else? – floated in a perfect free-kick at the far post after Le Fondre and been upended. Mark Beevers was the first to the ball and guided it past Cairns to send the 1,500 travelling Wanderers fans into delirium.
Wanderers looked composed in every area of the field. Pratley showed great energy and didn’t give any indication he had been out for the entirety of the campaign so far.
While Morais was not only instrumental in Wanderers’ attacking intentions, but also tracked back many times to help his defence snub out the rare threat Fleetwood offered.
Wanderers put the result beyond doubt with twelve minutes to go when Le Fondre bagged his second. Again Morais provided the ammunition with a superb cross after a silky step over and Alf glanced a header into the back of the net.
Jem Karacan came on for the hard working Pratley who left the field to a standing ovation from the Wanderers fans.
Bobby Grant got the visitors’ second goal with three minutes to spare but it proved to be immaterial as Wanderers claimed a crucial three points in their pursuit for a return the Sky Bet Championship.