Wanderers secured a spectacular 1-0 win at promotion contenders Plymouth Argyle on an eventful afternoon at Home Park.Gozie Ugwu scrambled home the only goal of the game early on before the Blues were dealt a blow when Alex Lynch was forced off the pitch with an injury, meaning Barry Richardson came on for his first appearance in 10 years.
But he was superbly shielded by the men in front of him as the Chairboys held firm to end a disappointing run of form with a win against all odds.
Gareth Ainsworth rang the changes after three straight league defeats, and Sam Wood’s absence was enforced by injury while Anthony Stewart, Luke O’Nien and Garry Thompson dropped to the bench, paving the way for Paris Cowan-Hall to start against his own club while there were recalls for Matt Bloomfield, Marcus Bean and Gozie Ugwu.
Kick-off was delayed by five minutes due to a concern over a sprinkler head breaking through the playing surface, but play finally got underway and it was Wycombe who came flying out of the traps, opening the scoring within three minutes.
Marcus Bean’s deflected shot earned a corner which was delivered by Joe Jacobson towards the front post. The ball struck the woodwork and fell for Aaron Pierre, who turned it goalwards and Gozie Ugwu scrambled it home from a yard out against his former employers.
Argyle looked for a quick response and saw Oscar Threlkeld’s low shot saved by Alex Lynch before Craig Tanner drilled wide from distance, before a major talking point developed when Lynch went down hurt and in clear discomfort with a knee injury.
He attempted to play on but shanked a goal-kick straight to an Argyle winger, who crossed for Reuben Reid to follow wide, and it spelled the end of the youngster’s game as 46-year-old Barry Richardson came off the bench for his first appearance since 2005.
He was well protected as the half wore on, as Wanderers’ defence did well to stifle the hosts’ attempts to break into the box.
Goalscoring chances were few and far which suited the visitors, although a dangerous cross from Paris Cowan-Hall almost fell kindly for Ugwu before it was scrambled clear.
At the other end, Craig Tanner looked the most dangerous outlet but the final ball was just lacking as they attempted in vain to test the new keeper.
Argyle had a claim for a penalty turned down in the nine minutes of first-half stoppage time as Jason McCarthy and Reuben Reid tussled for the ball before Richardson blocked the shot with his legs, and there was then a coming together in the middle of the park which resulted in yellow cards for Carl McHugh and Paul Hayes.
There were nine minutes of stoppage time which meant the half ended after most other games had kicked off for the second period, and a long 45 minutes lay in wait for the Blues in terms of protecting their fragile one-goal lead.
With no changes at the break, Wanderers started the more settled of the two sides, although Argyle began to up the tempo and forced a save from Richardson when Carl McHugh shot goalwards from 20 yards and saw the ball bounce awkwardly, but the keeper claimed comfortably.
A tactical change from the hosts saw them revert to a 4-4-2 formation as Ryan Brunt came on to partner Reid, but the next chance came at the other end when Paul Hayes threaded a clever pass through to Matt Bloomfield, who was twice denied from a tight angle by the feet of Luke McCormick.
McHugh then brought another save from Richardson but should have done better when the ball landed at his feet 12 yards out, passing it feebly into the keeper’s arms.
The keeper had more of a test when Graham Carey’s free-kick bounced awkwardly away to one side, before Carl McHugh headed over.
At the other end, Michael Harriman saw a shot blocked and Joe Jacobson drilled over from 25 yards, and as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time, substitute Luke O’Nien headed straight at the keeper before a dangerous Argyle cross missed everyone and went out for a goal-kick.
Wanderers held out and were able to celebrate the result of the season so far as they bounced back from three defeats in style.
Wycombe: Lynch (Richardson 13), Jombati, Jacobson, McCarthy, Pierre, Harriman, Bean, Bloomfield, Cowan-Hall, Hayes (O’Nien 72), Ugwu (Thompson 80).
Unused subs: Stewart, McGinn, Kretzschmar, O’Nien, Amadi-Holloway.
Plymouth: McCormick, Mellor, Sawyer, Nelson, Hartley, McHugh, Threlkeld (Nardiello 80), Wylde, Jervis (Carey 45), Tanner (Brunt 65), Reid.
Unused subs: Bittner, Purrington, Rooney, Forster.
Referee: Mr P Gibbs
Attendance: 8,458 (222 from Wycombe)