It was a game that will live long in the memory, as the ten man Chairboys scored two stoppage time goals against Carlisle United to win 4-3.
The Blues were 2-0 up at the break, but an early penalty and a red card for Luke O’Nien in the second half allowed the Cumbrians back into game, before they turned it on his head with two quick goals on 68 and 70 minutes.
But this team never know when they are beaten, and Paris Cowan-Hall headed home in the 93rd minute before Marcus Bean sent Adams Park wild with celebration to score with pretty much the last kick of the game – ending his long wait for a goal in the quarters.
The visitors edged the opening ten minutes, producing a couple of half-chances that both went harmlessly wide of Scott Brown’s goal, before Kris Twardek was foiled by Dom Gape while through one-on-one.
Wanderers created few chances of note until Luke O’Nien’s long-range effort flew just over around the 20-minute mark.
A somewhat niggly opening 20 minutes resulted in the first booking of the game for United defender Tom Parkes, and the Chairboys ultimately forced their first corner of the match after attacking from the resulting free-kick.
The opener arrived 28 minutes in following a long Brown free-kick and some robust hold-up play from Adebayo Akinfenwa, who swivelled away from his man, and slid the ball through to Matt Bloomfield who slotted in his second of the season from close-range.
Seemingly completely revitalised, the Chairboys wasted no time in doubling their lead, with Luke O’Nien firing one into the roof of the net from six yards after Carlisle ‘keeper Jack Bonham had spilled an aerial ball.
The hosts continued to apply the pressure, and Akinfenwa had his first chance when he headed goalwards but Bonham comfortably held.
With the hosts trying to avoid letting the game getting away from them, it was a more settled finish to the half, with scarce opportunities for either side. Wanderers were ultimately good value for their lead at the break, with the visitors having faded away after quite a positive start to the game.
Half-time: Wycombe 2-0 Carlisle
The second half began in dramatic fashion. Just under two minutes in, Luke O’Nien saw his afternoon end early when he was shown a straight red for blocking Twardek’s shot on the line with his hands. It was Wanderers’ first red card of the campaign in any competition. United skipper Danny Grainger dispatched the subsequent spot-kick for his ninth goal of the campaign.
With it very much game on again, the Cumbrians should have been level in the 51st minute, but a wide open Jamie Devitt blazed well over after getting on the end of James Brown’s low cross.
As Wanderers struggled to regroup after going a man down, the visitors continued to push for the equaliser, but a few chances in quick succession came to nothing. A smart double save from Brown then kept the Chairboys ahead as the game approached the hour mark.
Having survived that scare, Wycombe were afforded the perfect opportunity to restore their two-goal lead. Bonham brought down Tyson as he was racing through on goal, Joe Jacobson stepped up to take the penalty, but Bonham redeemed himself by diving to his left to pull off a great save. It was Jacobson’s second penalty miss for Wycombe, both of which have been against Carlisle.
Dan Scarr headed over for a Jacobson free-kick as the hosts continued to push for a third, but they were soon left to rue the missed penalty. Jamie Devitt netted his second goal in as many games to pull United level, connecting with Brown’s cross this time after his earlier miss.
Brown was then involved again, whipping a free-kick into the box for Cole Stockton to head home with his first goal for Carlisle and put them 3-2 up. Wanderers were now right up against it.
Gareth Ainsworth made his first change 74 minutes, bringing Scott Kashket on for Nathan Tyson in the hope of injecting some flair into proceedings.
As the final ten minutes approached, Wanderers briefly looked like they might be growing slightly back into the game, but Carlisle were still holding firm. The sight of Matt Bloomfield playing on with one arm holding a tissue to a bloody nose seemed to epitomise a forgettable afternoon that had previously looked so promising.
By now, the visitors were looking determined to add a fourth and finish Wycombe off. They were unable to produce much by way of clear goalscoring opportunities, though, and there was still hope – albeit rather faint – of Wanderers being able to snatch an equaliser.
As the match entered stoppage time, a point for the Chairboys looked unlikely, but Paris Cowan-Hall was the saviour with his second goal of the week. He capped a man of the match performance by tucking away substitute Craig Mackail-Smith’s low cross from close-range.
With the final whistle imminent, Adebayo Akinfenwa won a free-kick midway inside the visitors’ half. And that was when it finally happened, the moment that all Chairboys had been longing for: a Marcus Bean goal. The visitors failed to deal with Bloomfield’s long ball into the box, and there was Bean to rifle it home on the half-volley and make it 4-3. Cue pandemonium on the Valley Terrace at the end of one of the most dramatic games at Adams Park in recent years.
Attendance: 4,145 (298 Away)
Blue £1: 23875 (Prize: £578)
Orange £2: 32954 (Prize: £95)