Wanderers were made to pay for a below-par first-half showing at the Pirelli Stadium, going down to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Burton Albion
The Brewers actually scored all four goals in the game, with Jake Buxton’s own goal giving the visitors the lead before Lucas Akins’ brace and David Templeton’s smart low finish turned the game on its head to give Albion an unassailable lead.
Wanderers were able to take the positive of seeing Adebayo Akinfenwa return to action following a two-month lay-off, but his 20-minute appearance in the closing stages wasn’t enough to instigate a late fightback as the Blues fell to a second successive loss.
Gareth Ainsworth made three changes to the side that started in the 2-1 defeat to AFC Wimbledon four days earlier, recalling Ryan Allsop between the sticks after his return from injury, while Bryn Morris and Craig Mackail-Smith also came into the side at the expense of Randell Williams and Alex Samuel.
Adam El-Abd flashed a header across goal early on, bloodying his nose in the process, before Burton were forced into a change when Jake Hesketh pulled up with a muscle strain, prompting boss Nigel Clough to bring David Templeton off the bench.
The Brewers’ first chance came on 12 minutes and Marcus Harness was the architect, weaving expertly past two Wanderers defenders before whipping a low cross to the back stick where Scott Fraser was inches away from making contact as he slid in.
Harness was at it again six minutes later, and almost had his own name on the scoresheet, cutting in from the right wing and sidefooting towards the bottom corner, only for Allsop to meet it with a brilliant low save to tip the ball round the post.
But just as the hosts were building up a head of steam, they fell behind, due to a moment of misfortune for centre-half Jake Buxton. He cleared Joe Jacobson’s corner out to the wing, but the Wycombe left-back delivered another excellent ball into danger and Buxton stuck out a leg to divert it past his own keeper from six yards.
However, the goal didn’t alter the balance of play and Albion were level on 32 minutes when they burst at pace into the box and an attempted challenge from a blue shirt bounced kindly for Lucas Akins to lash home with plenty of power, giving Allsop no chance.
And the turnaround was complete 60 seconds later, when Templeton the man to make it 2-1. A low cross from the right bypassed Akins but found the substitute in plenty of space, and his first-time effort was accurately directed into the bottom corner.
Wycombe could’ve been level at the end of a fantastic move down the right when Jason McCarthy’s low cross just missed Mackail-Smith who slid in, and Nathan Tyson’s effort to return the ball goalwards saw it deflect to safety off his team-mate who lay inside the six-yard box.
Templeton blasted over at the end of a counter-attack as the half ticked into stoppage time, and Jamie Allen couldn’t convert an inviting cross by Harness, before McCarthy flashed a cross in front of the Brewers goal and Mackail-Smith was unable to tuck it home, with the offside flag raised anyway.
But there was still to be a twist before the half-time whistle, and it was a third goal for Burton, with Harness yet again the architect. He broke free down the right and laid a low ball on a plate for Akins to tuck home from close range with virtually the final kick of the half.
There were no changes at the interval, and the second period began in a similar vein, as Templeton drilled over the top when he should have done better.
The game entered a lull in the lead-up to the hour-mark, though Akins had another shot blocked by McCarthy as the Brewers looked to put the match to bed.
Scott Kashket was Wycombe’s first change, replacing Bryn Morris, and Wanderers began to enjoy more possession higher up the pitch, resulting in an instinctive effort from Mackail-Smith testing Brad Collins’ handling from the corner of the box.
Curtis Thompson, Kashket and Burton’s Reece Hutchinson all saw yellow in quick succession during a niggly spell in the middle of the park, before the Chairboys came agonisingly close when McCarthy did excellently on the byline after collecting Thompson’s raking pass and delivered a low pass into the six-yard area that Mackail-Smith couldn’t quite squeeze over the line.
Jacobson was the next into the book for a foul on Harness, before Albion replaced Templeton with Kieran Wallace, while Adebayo Akinfenwa returned for his first appearance in two months, taking the place of Mackail-Smith.
Then came Alex Samuel, in place of Jacobson as Wycombe threw caution to the wind, and that would always leave opportunities for the Brewers to exploit gaps as Harness fired over from Akins’ lay-off, and Allen did the same in a one-on-one with Sido Jombati.
Tyson drilled wide from distance before Wanderers were devastated to see referee Michael Salisbury blow for a foul on Akinfenwa despite Kashket being free in the box to meet his flick-on. Moments later, Gape’s lofted cross into the box found Samuel onside, but he could only send his header straight at the keeper.
That was the end of the action as Burton avenged their 2-1 loss at Adams Park earlier in the season, leaving Wycombe eager to return to winning ways when they visit Scunthorpe on Saturday.