Ched Evans returns in Chesterfield defeat less than a week after being found not guilty of rape

Evans had not played since 10 September due to an ankle injury

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The Independent Football

Ched Evans returned to football on Tuesday night for the first time since he was found not guilty last week of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011 in a retrial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Evans, 27, came off the substitutes’ bench during Chesterfield’s 1-0 defeat by Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night as the Spireites slumped to a sixth consecutive match without a win.

The former Sheffield Wednesday and Wales striker has missed the last month of action with an ankle injury, during which time his retrial took place in Cardiff over the alleged rape five years ago. Evans was found guilty in an original trial in April 2012 and sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served two and a half years before being released.

Evans had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal on 21 April 2016 and a retrial was ordered, and he was found not guilty of rape last Friday.

The striker joined Chesterfield in the summer and has made nine appearances this season, scoring four goals in League One including a double against Walsall.

Having been left out of the starting line-up by Chesterfield manager Danny Wilson, Evans was brought on in the 60th minute to replace Reece Mitchell, and he had one shot tipped onto the crossbar by Fleetwood’s substitute goalkeeper Alex Cairns – who had to come on for Chris Neal after he suffered injury inside the first 10 minutes.

Ched Evans found not guilty in hotel rape retrial

Fleetwood full-back Conor McLaughlin scored the only goal of the match, with his low drilled effort beating Chesterfield goalkeeper Ryan Fulton – who is on a season-long loan from Liverpool. The defeat leaves Chesterfield in the League One relegation zone, with only Coventry City and Shrewsbury Town below them.

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