Adam McGurk's second-half effort secured the points for Burton in a thrilling game at the Pirelli Stadium.The striker curled home the winner from 20 yards after a goalless first half in which Brewers keeper Jon McLaughlin was lucky to stay on the field for handling outside the box.
However, he secured the points for his side with a superb save late on from Aaron Pierre as the Blues threw everything they could at their opponents.
Gareth Ainsworth made one change to his starting line-up from the team that faced Oxford United on Friday, with Aaron Holloway rewarded for his goal with a place in the side in place of Sam Saunders, who missed out with an injury.
A lively start gave no player on the pitch the time to get the ball down and settle into the game, with both sides playing with energy at a high tempo which was fitting of the occasion between two promotion-chasing teams.
Stuart Beavon was given a sight of goal on 11 minutes when he wriggled free from Nico Yennaris but he was denied by a superb challenge on the edge of the area by Joe Jacobson, who appeared from nowhere to stop the former Wanderer from getting his shot away.
Phil Edwards then blasted over the bar with a first-time shot from 25 yards and the same player then nodded an Adam McGurk free-kick over the bar as Burton grew into the game, and their direct approach looked to be unsettling the visitors as Alfie Mawson misjudged a long bouncing ball, only for Beavon to lash his effort wide.
Sam Wood had a chance from 25 yards but saw the ball spin wide with his first-time effort, but the Wanderers felt a huge sense of injustice moments later when Burton keeper Jon McLaughlin was only shown a yellow card for handling the ball outside his area after misreading a bouncing ball. Fred Onyedinma would’ve had an empty net to roll the ball into and yet the keeper stayed on the pitch, with Jacobson curling the resultant free-kick over the bar.
The controversy gave Wycombe a lift as they began to dominate, although Matt Ingram needed to be alert to keep out a low effort from Beavon from just inside the box.
The half-time whistle sounded with the game goalless but the talking point on everyone’s lips was the decision not to award the red card to McLaughlin, although Wanderers knew they had to put any ill feeling behind them and concentrate on the job in hand in the second period.
Burton began brightly and saw half-time sub Matty Palmer drag his shot wide from distance at the end of a smart passing move, and they broke the deadlock on 55 minutes courtesy of a fine finish from Adam McGurk. The former Aston Villa youngster made space for himself 20 yards out and curled a fine left-footed effort into the corner, giving Matt Ingram no chance.
The hosts had their tails up but Wanderers did well to regroup and started to impose themselves more, enjoying decent spells of possession around the area without finding the necessary cutting edge.
Matt Bloomfield fired wide from distance in between two attacking changes, with Steven Craig and Hogan Ephraim coming off the bench as Gareth Ainsworth went in search of an equaliser.
They battled well and saw Alfie Mawson’s header fly over before Ephraim’s cross-shot went wide, although Burton could have doubled their lead when Nasser El Khayati’s low cross struck the base of the post and Matty Palmer turned the rebound over the bar.
Wycombe pushed hard as the game approached stoppage time and were denied by a superb save from Jon McLaughlin when Aaron Pierre’s bullet header looked destined for the back of the net from Joe Jacobson’s corner.
The irony of McLaughlin’s intervention won’t have been lost on the travelling fans as the final whistle brought the game to an end with just a second away defeat of the season for the Wanderers, but Bury’s surprise defeat at home to Morecambe leaves Wycombe four points above the play-offs ahead of a return to Adams Park on Saturday for the visit of Cheltenham.
Wycombe: Ingram, Yennaris, Jacobson, Mawson, Pierre, Bean (Ephraim 74), Bloomfield (Murphy 81), Wood, Onyedinma, Holloway (Craig 72), Hayes.
Unused subs: Lynch, Fletcher.
Burton: McLaughlin, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Mousinho, Taft, McGurk, Stewart, Naylor, McCrory (Palmer HT), Beavon (Weir 80), El Khayati (Slade 90).
Unused subs: Shearer, Harness, Maynard, Johnstone.
Referee: Mr D Deadman