Ainsworth brought himself on for the final 15 minutes to a standing ovation from all corners of the ground – a fitting tribute to a legend of both clubs.
Blues made five changes bringing in Dave Winfield, Kortney Hause, Marvin McCoy, Bruno Andrade and Dean Morgan for Leon Johnson, Michael Harriman, Gary Doherty, Jo Kuffour and Josh Scowen. The match marked skipper Winfield’s 100thfor the Chairboys.
Ashley Vincent fired over the bar in the second minute as the visitors started brightly, but Wanderers quickly got a foothold in the game and Matt Spring’s 20-yard volley flew off target.
Winfield had the first effort on target as he eluded his marker to powerfully head Matt Spring’s driven corner goalwards, but it was straight at Vale keeper Chris Neal.
Vincent wasted another chance in the 19th minute, again firing off target when well placed.
Morgan gave the Blues the lead from the spot in the 31st minute, sending Neal the wrong way after the keeper had pulled back the striker. The move started down Wycombe’s right and Joel Grant’s deep cross was dropped by Neal at the back post before he impeded Morgan.
Sam Morsy called Ingram into action for the first time in the 37th minute, but his strike from the edge of the area was comfortable for Wanderers’ No.1.
Spring tried his luck from distance again with time in the first half running out, but his 20-yarder was simple for Neal.
Sam Wood flashed a shot over from close-range after the ball bounced to him off what looked like a Vale defender’s hand.
Charles Dunne headed Spring’s corner wide, before Vincent saw a looping header saved by Ingram, but clear-cut chances were far and far between in the early stages of the second period.
Morgan crashed an effort over the bar after linking up well with Grant following a sustained spell of Blues possession.
Ingram, who has been superb since breaking into the side, produced a stunning save in the 74th minute to tip Doug Loft’s 25-yard strike over the bar after the midfielder had broken forward from halfway.
Ainsworth replaced Andrade with 15 minutes remaining and all four sides of Adams Park gave the 39-year-old a standing ovation as he took to the pitch.
The visitors levelled three minutes later when Hughes turned in from close range after a corner was headed towards goal.
Ainsworth almost conjured up a fairytale ending to his professional career, but he slid Wood’s cross just wide six minutes from time.
The division’s top scorer Tom Pope saw a late shot saved by Ingram, before Hause did superbly to head Myrie Williams’ goalbound effort over the bar.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Dunne, Winfield (c), Hause, Andrade (Ainsworth 75), Lewis, Spring, Wood, Grant, Morgan.
Subs: Harrison, Johnson, Kuffour, Harriman, Doherty, Morias.
Port Vale: Neal, Duffy (Myrie Williams 64), Jones, McCombe, Purse, Birchall, Loft (c), Morsy (Lloyd 55), Shuker, Vincent (Hughes 62), Pope.
Subs: Yates, Griffith, Dodds, Chilvers.
Attendance: 7,120 (2,828 away)