Paul Hayes struck home a penalty with the last kick of the game to secure an incredible 2-1 victory at Adams Park.It looked as though both promotion contenders would be forced to settle for a point after Liam Sercombe cancelled out Sam Saunders' stylish opener, but Hayes held his nerve in the 102nd minute to keep up the heat in this phenomenal pursuit of promotion.
Gareth Ainsworth made two changes to his starting line-up from the side that beat Cheltenham at the weekend, as Joe Jacobson missed out through injury and Fred Onyedinma dropped to the bench, making way for Peter Murphy and Steven Craig as Sam Wood reverted to left-back.
Wycombe have made a habit of coming out of the blocks quickly and they could have opened the scoring inside 60 seconds when Nico Yennaris’ deep cross found Paul Hayes at the back post, but the striker sidefooted it wide on the volley.
But Hayes was to play a big part in the opening goal and it was his clever touch that played in Sam Saunders to lash home on eight minutes, hitting it first time after playing a one-two with his former Brentford team-mate and beating the keeper.
Wanderers kept up the pressure although City posed a threat, playing a neat passing game in the opposition half without finding a killer touch to test the keeper.
Saunders and Sam Wood fired efforts straight at Christy Pym at the other end before the Blues were struck by more injury woe. Matt McClure had already come on for the stricken Aaron Holloway when he picked up a knock and needed to leave the field with Fred Onyedinma taking his place.
The injuries took the pace out of the game but Wanderers rediscovered their tempo at the end of the half, creating a number of openings with smart play in and around the area.
The interval came and went with no further substitutions but City began the second period brightly, pushing the ball out to the flanks at regular intervals.
Liam Sercombe saw a powerful low shot saved by Ingram and the ball bounced kindly for Matt Bloomfield to clear, but there were concerns on the home bench when Alfie Mawson went down with an injury, playing on through the pain in an effort to see the job through to the end.
Steven Craig almost had a sight of goal when Paul Hayes latched on to a poor pass in midfield and threaded a ball through the middle for the Scotsman to chase, but Christian Ribeiro got back to deny him a shooting chance.
And then came the sucker punch when City levelled the scores with the impressive Lee Holmes doing the damage down the left-hand side. He created the space for a cross and whipped in a perfect delivery for Liam Sercombe to meet with a free header, making it 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining.
That gave the Grecians hope of completing the turnaround and only a superb sliding challenge from Nico Yennaris denied Sercombe a shooting chance when he went through one-on-one with the keeper.
Yennaris picked up an injury as stoppage time loomed to add to the growing list of ailments in the Wanderers squad, before Ingram made a superb reflex save to keep out David Wheeler’s glancing header from another exquisite Holmes delivery.
Then Sam Saunders could’ve won it when Paul Hayes lofted a pass into his path on the counter-attack, but his attempted lob sailed over the crossbar as Christy Pym committed himself.
But the drama waited until the very last kick of the game when Tom Nichols stuck out a leg to up-end Aaron Pierre in the area and Hayes kept the coolest held in the stadium to stroke home the penalty, sparking delirious scenes in Adams Park with 101:45 on the clock.
Wycombe: Ingram, Yennaris, Wood, Mawson, Pierre, Saunders, Bloomfield, Murphy, Craig (Ephraim 82), Holloway (McClure 19 (Onyedinma 29)), Hayes.
Unused subs: Lynch, Fletcher, Bean.
Exeter: Pym, Davies (Morrison 71), Ribeiro, Moore-Taylor, McAllister, Sercombe, Oakley, Harley, Holmes, Nicholls (Nichols 61), Cummins (Wheeler 61).
Unused subs: Hamon, Butterfield, Bennett, Keohane.
Attendance: 3,245 (284 from Exeter)
Referee: Mr I Williamson
Winning 50/50 Draw Number: 149928
Prize Money: £639.00