Subs Cathal Cregg and Donie Smith kicked vital points in the last 10 minutes to secure a win to boost their chances in Division Two.
“We looked at this as a big, big game because these young fellas want to stay in Division Two,” said Evans.
“I know when I came here (to the division) with Tipperary we lost four games by a point and it took the good out of it. We are not ready for Division One, we don’t have the pool of players. But staying here is so important. This is an intimidating place to come and I think it shows we will be no pushovers.”
After a lively opening 20 minutes, which featured a number of high quality scores from both teams, Senan Kilbride and Jerome Johnston with the pick of them, the Rossies hit an unanswered 1-4 to take a decisive lead.
Dominating midfield and with the forwards showing great movement and scoring power, Roscommon looked impressive with Ciaran Murtagh, Mark Nally and Senan Kilbride picking off nice long-range scores.
Diarmuid Murtagh’s goal on the stroke of half-time, deftly finishing off Kilbride’s pass, put them 1-9 to 0-6 ahead at the interval. The third quarter was messy and bad-tempered. Conor Garvey became the second Down player to pick up a black card, following Kevin McKernan’s in the first half, and Luke Howard was also dismissed for a second bookable offence after 45 minutes.
Despite playing with 14 men, Down rallied and Arthur McConville’s palmed goal helped bring them to within a point of the visitors.
They closed a six-point deficit to trail by one (1-11 to 1-10) but Cregg and Smith hit four points in the last 10 minutes to seal victory.
While describing some of the cards as “harsh”, Jim McCorry wasn’t too disappointed with a first home league defeat in charge of Down.
“I hate losing games and the players are disappointed to lose in their own backyard but it is early days,” he said. “There are no medals given out at this time of year and we are a work in progress.”
Former AFL player Caolan Mooney suffered a hamstring injury early on in what was his first start for Down while there is still no news on when his former Collingwood team-mate, Marty Clarke, might return to the county.
Scorers for Down: D O’Hare 0-3 (1f), A McConville 1-1, J Johnston 0-3, P Devlin 0-2 (1f, 1 ‘45’), C Maginn 0-1, P Fitzpatrick 0-1.
Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 1-4 (2f), C Murtagh 0-2, S Kilbride 0-1, D Shine 0-1 (f), M Nally 0-1, N Daly 0-1, C Cafferkey 0-1, C Cregg 0-3, D Smith 0-1.
DOWN: S Kane; D O’Hagan, B McArdle, L Howard; P Devlin, D Turley, K McKernan; N Madine, P Fitzpatrick; C Maginn, C Laverty, C Mooney; C Crilly, D O’Hare, D Savage.
Subs: J Johnston for Mooney (15), C Garvey for McKernan (BC, 25), M Poland for Savage (31), A McConville for Crilly (HT), D O’Hanlon for Turley (HT), N Donnelly for Garvey (BC, 45).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; C Daly, N Daly, C Cafferkey; I Kilbride, C Shine; M Nally, D Shine, E Smith; C Murtagh, S Kilbride, D Murtagh.
Subs: U Harney for Nally (12), D Smith for Shine (50), C Cregg for D Murtagh (53), M Whyte for O’Malley (53), F Kelly for C Murtagh (63), C Compton for E Smith (70).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).