Wanderers fell to defeat at Hartlepool despite a mammoth effort to claw back an equaliser in the dying stages at Victoria Park.The hosts scored the game's only goal in the first half, with Scott Fenwick converting from close range after a clever move started by Rhys Oates.
Wycombe threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the second period and were denied a penalty when Sam Wood looked to have been tripped, but despite a cavalcade of late pressure, the ball stayed out and United held on for the win.
The first meaningful chance of the game came on five minutes when Garry Thompson dug out a low cross from the right wing and Sam Wood got to the ball first, sending his first-time effort just wide of the post with his right foot.
Hartlepool broke well at the other end only to see Michael Woods fire wastefully wide moments later, before a succession of corners saw Wycombe threaten but Michael Harriman, Aaron Pierre and Matt Bloomfield were all denied by blocks from the home defence.
There was a scare when Nathan Thomas dispossessed Jason McCarthy on the touchline and burst into the box, but somehow failed to pick a pass to Jake Gray waiting on the penalty spot and the chance went begging.
Further opportunities were few and far between as the half wore on and the referee’s whistle sounded regularly to prevent either side from upping tempo, with half chances for Gozie Ugwu and Thompson putting the visitors only slightly ahead in terms of holding the upper hand.
But it was Hartlepool who broke the deadlock on 34 minutes and it came courtesy of great play from Rhys Oates 25 yards out, skipping past three challenges before sending it wide to debutant Nathan Thomas. His fierce cross was inch-perfect for Scott Fenwick to meet with a first-time shot six yards out to send the ball past Matt Ingram, becoming the first outfield player to score a first-half goal at home to the Chairboys since last March.
The hosts had their tails up but Wycombe responded well, with Sam Wood lashing a volley wide before Gozie Ugwu’s curled effort landed a yard the wrong side of the post, and the same player struck a low effort which fizzed wide from 20 yards.
There were no changes at the interval but Hartlepool came out the stronger of the two sides, seeing a shot deflected wide by Anthony Stewart before Wanderers created their best move of the match, seeing Jason McCarthy overlap in the box and dink a cross which was nicked off the head of Gozie Ugwu by Jordan Richards in the six-yard box.
Wanderers’ attacking intent left them susceptible to the counter and when Aaron Pierre tripped his man 20 yards out, it took a fine save from Matt Ingram to keep out Richards’ free-kick just before the hour-mark.
Then Michael Woods was denied in the area by a well-timed tackle from Joe Jacobson, before the Blues were denied what looked a certain penalty when Sam Wood was tripped when reacting first to a loose ball after Garry Thompson’s goalbound shot was blocked.
Then from the resulting corner, Aaron Pierre sent a bullet header towards goal only to be denied by the fingertips of Trevor Carson, and Gareth Ainsworth looked to build on the growing momentum by changing to a 4-3-3 set-up and bringing Jermaine Udumaga and Aaron Amadi-Holloway into the fray.
Joe Jacobson saw a free-kick well saved by Carson before Ainsworth summoned Paul Hayes from the bench, and the pressure cranked up as Hartlepool legs began to fade, although the ball just wouldn’t fall for the Wycombe attackers inside the box.
The hosts clung on – just – for a much-needed three points while Wanderers will now look ahead to the trip to Villa Park for the FA Cup third round replay on Tuesday.
Wycombe: Ingram, McCarthy (Udumaga 69), Jacobson, Stewart, Pierre, Harriman, O’Nien, Bloomfield (Hayes 80), Wood, Thompson (Amadi-Holloway 69), Ugwu.
Unused subs: Lynch, Jombati, Bean, McGinn.
Hartlepool: Carson, Richards, Carroll, Harrison, Jackson, Featherstone, Woods, Gray (Bingham 77), Thomas (Hawkins 55), Oates, Fenwick.
Unused subs: Bartlett, Walker, Oyenuga, Jones, Smith.
Referee: Mr Mark Brown
Attendance: 3,721 (152 from Wycombe)