Wycombe completed a first ever EFL double over old foes Colchester United thanks to goals from Adebayo Akinfenwa, Paris Cowan-Hall and Luke O’Nien at Adams Park.
Wanderers took the lead when Craig Mackail-Smith’s exquisite cross provided the opportunity for Akinfenwa to nod home, and it was 2-0 when Cowan-Hall drilled home with the help of a deflection following a corner.
The best of the bunch arrived on 75 minutes when O’Nien let fly with an outstanding volley from 20 yards which gave the keeper no chance, but the U’s gave themselves hope when Sammie Szmodics found the bottom corner with a smart curling effort from 20 yards.
Gareth Ainsworth handed debuts to Tafari Moore and Nathan McGinley after the defensive duo completed loan moves from Arsenal and Middlesbrough respectively on Friday, while Craig Mackail-Smith and Paris Cowan-Hall returned to the attack.
Moore was involved early on, exchanging the ball neatly with Luke O’Nien down the right before beating his man and chipping in a cross, but the ball was too high for Adebayo Akinfenwa to reach.
Colchester went closer, forcing a smart reflex save from Scott Brown when Tom Eastman’s cross picked out Kurtis Guthrie, but his diving header was too close to the keeper and the ball bounced to safety.
McGinley’s crossfield ball to Akinfenwa led to an opening once Paris Cowan-Hall had laid the ball into the path of Matt Bloomfield, but he could only fire over the top after being forced away from goal.
Then Sam Saunders curled a free-kick into the arms of Sam Walker, before the deadlock was broken thanks to the ‘golden oldie’ combination of Craig Mackail-Smith and that man Akinfenwa. A quickly-taken throw gave Mackail-Smith the chance to whip in the perfect cross for the Beast to stoop and head past Walker for his 14th of the season – and silence those mocking the ‘fat’ forward from the away end.
The assist was a work of art, but the lead was almost short-lived as Ryan Inniss’s dangerous header was cleverly tipped over the bar by Brown before Moore was well-placed to divert the ball for a corner as the U’s looked to pounce from the corner that followed.
Wycombe swung the action to the other end and earned their second goal by showing strength and desire to keep the ball alive following a corner. Firstly Dan Scarr hooked the ball back into danger, Luke O’Nien won his header against his marker and Mackail-Smith tapped it into the path of Paris Cowan-Hall, whose low drilled shot took a nick to beat the keeper and make it 2-0.
That determination filtered through to the other end of the pitch, where Moore and McGinley made brave blocks to receive raucous applause from their supporters, as the U’s opted for a more possession-based approach, looking for a way back into the game.
Sammie Szmodics should’ve done better when he dragged a shot wide on his left foot after finding space in the box, and the same player looped a chance over the bar from distance under pressure from Matt Bloomfield.
There were no changes at the interval, and a fairly settled start to the second period saw both keepers untroubled, with a low speculative shot from Drey Wright flying a couple of yards wide from distance.
Wright and O’Nien were both booked for separate fouls but in truth there was little sign of the typical derby animosity between the sides, with efforts being channelled in the right manner in a high-energy contest.
Wanderers were indebted to Brown for a fine flying save to his right to keep out Mikael Mandron’s piledriver after a free-kick was cleared to the forward on the edge of the box, and again when Frankie Kent turned the ball goalwards from the ensuring corner.
Gareth Ainsworth made his first chance on 70 minutes, introducing Nathan Tyson for Cowan-Hall, and his side went close to a third when Sam Saunders struck it sweetly from 20 yards, only for Walker to parry his shot and then claim the rebound from Bloomfield’s follow-up.
And they went even closer when Tafari Moore embarked on a phenomenal mazy run, leaving defenders trailing in his wake before his shot was tipped skywards by Walker and cleared off the line as Bloomfield rushed in.
But when the third goal came, there was no stopping it. A corner from the left was cleared out to Luke O’Nien and the midfielder let fly with an incredible left-footed volley which flew into the net like a rocket.
Colchester pulled one back almost immediately, when Sammie Szmodics found enough room on the edge of the box to bend a smart finish past Brown into the top corner.
Marcus Bean came on against his former club to take the place of Sam Saunders, helping to shore up the midfield as the clock ticked towards six minutes of added time.
And the Blues did what they needed to do to keep the points safe, returning to winning ways at Adams Park with a seventh home win in the last nine in all competitions.
Attendance: 4,386 (580 from Colchester)
50/50 Draw Numbers
Blue £1: 24244 (Prize: £589.00)
Orange £2: 32759 (Prize: £90.00)