Wycombe were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Preston North End, as they went down 5-1 to the Lilywhites in the third round at Adams Park.
Braces from Josh Harrop and Alan Browne, and Daryl Horgan's deflected strike saw the visitors make safe passage to the next stage with Luke O’Nien on target for the Chairboys; at the time making the game 2-1.
Gareth Ainsworth made three changes to his starting XI for this one, with Marcus Bean coming in at right-back for Dominic Gape, the fit again Adam El-Abd came back to skipper the side in place of Will De Havilland and Nathan Tyson replaced Craig Mackail-Smith in the front three. There was also a welcome return to the bench for Scott Kashket as he works his way back to full-fitness.
It was a nightmare start for the Chairboys as they went behind to a free-kick with less than two minutes played. Harrop curled home the set-piece with a sumptuous curling effort from 20-yards out after Daryl Horgan was pulled back by O’Nien for the foul.
Preston continued to look a threat as Scott Brown got down low to divert Harrop's chance over the bar with 14 minutes played. Tom Clarke would head wide soon after, before Callum Robinson drilled over after wriggling into a shooting position on 18 minutes.
Back Preston came again as Wycombe struggled to get a foothold in the game. Brown once more getting down well to deny Robinson as fired low on his left foot, sticking out a leg to fling it behind for a corner.
At the other end, Nick Freeman looped one over on 26 minutes, after the ball landed at his feet following a spell of pinball in the box, which started from Joe Jacobson’s free-kick into a good area.
That gave Wycombe and Freeman a spark, and he and Adebayo Akinfenwa linked up well with the former seeing his shot deflect behind for a corner with just over 30 minutes played. From the resulting set-piece the ball would drop to Freeman again in the box, but he failed to hit the target.
The combination of Bayo and Freeman looked to be PNE’s biggest cause for concern - Freeman this time making space down the right, crossing to the Beast who headed wide at the back-stick.
Wycombe were made to pay for not taking their chances when on top, as Preston clinically made it two with 38 minutes played. The ball was half-cleared to Browne on the edge, and he sent a thunderous and perfectly-timed shot past Brown to double the visitors’ advantage.
Wanderers were down, but certainly not out as they reduced the deficit with one minute of normal time remaining in the first period. Freeman, who was Wycombe’s best player in the first-half, threaded it through to O’Nien who saw his cross-shot deflected into the net off Horgan.
Still all to play for at the break.
Half-time: Wycombe 1-2 Preston
Ainsworth made a switch at half-time with Sam Saunders being replaced by De Havilland. Bean would slot into his more usual holding role and De Havilland would operate at full-back.
Wycombe came out fighting, and laid down their intentions early as Freeman hit wide after a nice flick on Akinfenwa with two minutes of the half played.
But it was Preston who would find the net next on 50 minutes, as Horgan used good trickery to get a yard in the box, before sending a shot beyond Brown after taking a wicked deflection off De Havilland.
Wycombe with nothing to lose continued to press for a way back into the game. The ball fell loose to Akinfenwa in the box after Dan Scarr’s flick-on but he could only hit wide, though the flag was already up.
Blues were almost out of the tie just past the hour-mark as Robinson got beyond El-Abd and Scarr and before sending a right-footed shot just beyond the post.
Gareth then made his second switch, and it was time for the return of Kashket as he replaced Bloomfield to an outstanding ovation with 20 left to play.
PNE were given a glorious chance to seal their passage to round four as referee Peter Bankes spotted a pull on Paul Huntington and pointed to the spot. Browne made no mistake and bagged a brace from 12-yards on 78 minutes.
Changes for both sides after that goal as Daniel Johnson and Andy Boyle replaced new signing Billy Bodin and Calum Woods for Preston, before Paris Cowan-Hall came on for Jacobson as Blues went three at the back.
The scoreline was cruel on Brown who had made number of great saves during the game. He denied Robinson once more with seven left on the clock, and that was to be Robinson’s last action as he was replaced by Paul Gallagher.
Brown could not prevent Harrop from getting his second and the Lilywhites fifth however, as Greg Cunningham picked the striker out with a pinpoint cross and he nodded it beyond the Chairboys keeper to cap off a convincing win for Alex Neil’s side.
Attendance: 4,928 (791 Preston)
Blue £1: 21743 (Prize: £764.00)
Orange £2: 32609 (Prize: 119.00)