Wycombe ended title favourite Sunderland's eight-game winning run, claiming a deserved point in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
The first ever meeting between the sides looked to be coming to a surprise conclusion when Fred Onyedinma lashed home a superb opener in the second half, but Josh Maja struck late on to salvage a point for the Black Cats.
Gareth Ainsworth reverted to a 4-3-3 formation with Bryn Morris available again in midfield, while Matt Ingram made his second debut in goal after rejoining on an emergency loan following injuries to Ryan Allsop and Yves Ma-Kalambay.
Aiden McGeady had the game’s first chance, drilling over from a tight angle after Chris Maguire found him on the left-hand side of the box, but then Wycombe enjoyed a promising spell, with the front three of Alex Samuel, Fred Onyedinma and Randell Williams all exchanging well to cause problems from the home defence.
Ingram’s first save was a comfortable one, 20 minutes in, from George Honeyman’s low shot from 25 yards with no passing options available, and the Black Cats forward was then booked for tugging back Williams after the Watford loanee left him for dead down the wing.
Wanderers’ early endeavours saw them grow in confidence, matching the title favourites in every department and looking threatening in every attack, breaking away at pace, chasing back in numbers, and hunting down the Black Cats as a pack whenever they were looking dangerous in possession.
Adam El-Abd couldn’t fully connect with a diving header from Joe Jacobson’s corner on 30 minutes and then Sido Jombati carried the ball forward before delivering a powerful shot which deflected into the side netting.
But for all of the visitors’ excellent attacking vigour, they almost fell behind to a simple chance presented to McGeady, who stayed alert to read a flick-on from a long punt forward and raced into the box, only to stroke the ball wastefully wide of the near post with his left foot.
Then Matthews kept possession smartly in the box and drilled a low cross from the byline which was kept away from danger by Ingram, with the Black Cats gradually growing into the ascendancy as the half drew towards its conclusion.
But the 0-0 scoreline at the break was the least that the Chairboys deserved, though it did spur the hosts on at the start of the second period, with their supporters eager to see their side take the game to their lower-placed visitors. Aiden McGeady’s clever cross caused a scare only for Joe Jacobson to divert it behind, and then a powerful drive from Reece James was blocked at source.
Then the noise was cranked up with a succession of corners as Wycombe needed to dig deep to keep their opponents at bay, and then Sunderland made a double change, introducing Josh Maja and Max Power for Jerome Sinclair and Dylan McGeouch.
Those two subs combined for Sunderland’s next chance, with Power’s wonderful raking pass finding Maja in space, but the forward’s shot deflected wide off the boot of El-Abd.
Dominic Gape looked to alleviate pressure with a speculative effort from distance at the other end, which was straight at McLaughlin, and then came the breakthrough, which stunned the Stadium of Light into silence apart from the 1,010 Chairboys fans in the heavens. It was a routine free-kick floated into the area by Jacobson, and with Jombati making his presence felt, the ball fell for an unmarked Onyedinma on the penalty spot, and he made no mistake in lashing home into the roof of the net.
Game on, then – with the Black Cats riled. Smart attacking play from Maguire drew a foul from Dominic Gape, who was booked for his misdemeanour, but McGeady’s free-kick from a dangerous position bounced off the wall for a corner.
Gareth Ainsworth then introduced Nathan Tyson from the bench for his first appearance of the season, replacing Randell Williams on 73 minutes, while Sunderland’s final change saw Reece James replaced by Bryan Oviedo.
Maja fired into the side netting following a spell of pinball and then headed over from a cross from the right, before Bryn Morris stopped Max Power’s low shot which followed a short corner played to the edge of the box.
Alex Samuel’s seemingly endless running was finally brought to a conclusion as Craig Mackail-Smith took his place on 82 minutes, and the new arrival almost saw the ball break kindly for him amidst a scramble in the Sunderland box before Jon McLaughlin gratefully landed on the ball.
And then straightaway at the other end, the equaliser came. It was Maja who got it, firing home after a low cross from the right-hand side of the box found its way to him, giving Ingram no chance.
Suddenly the Stadium of Light was rocking, with the home fans desperate to see their side complete a ninth successive win for the first time this millennium.
And it took a magnificent stop from Matt Ingram to keep the scores level as the clock struck 90, beating away Power’s well-struck shot from 25 yards after another short corner found him in space.
Paris Cowan-Hall replaced Onyedinma at the start of five minutes’ stoppage time, and he won a free-kick which nearly led to a chance from Mackail-Smith whose shot was snuffed out as he was set to pull the trigger.
Sunderland nearly won it through Lynden Gooch’s header which struck Jacobson en route to goal and then Ingram comfortably held a volley from the follow-up, sealing an excellent point for the Blues.