Wanderers came back from 4-1 down to push Championship side Norwich City all the way before eventually bowing out of the Carabao Cup
Norwich striker Jordan Rhodes continued his phenomenal scoring record in south Bucks with a hat-trick for the visitors, having scored five times on his previous visit with Huddersfield, while Tom Trybull also chipped in with a header.
But Paris Cowan-Hall made it 2-1 and later Sam Saunders - from the penalty spot - and Adebayo Akinfenwa breathed life into the hosts' hopes of a dramatic comeback as Wycombe stunned their higher-placed opponents.
Gareth Ainsworth had made five changes in personnel and a shift in approach for the visit of the in-form Championship outfit, with Sam Saunders, Craig Mackail-Smith, Paris Cowan-Hall, Nick Freeman and Alex Samuel all coming into the line-up.
Jason McCarthy made a crucial clearance from a dangerous cross inside the first minute before Mackail-Smith crashed a volley into the arms of the keeper, taking a chance early under pressure from defenders outside the box.
Felix Passlack volleyed wildly wide from a misplaced Darius Charles header but the breakthrough came on 12 minutes, courtesy of Jordan Rhodes, who scored five times on his previous visit to Adams Park with Huddersfield, and was on the scoresheet again with an instinctive finish. Nathan Thompson’s cross was overhit but Emi Buendia returned the ball into danger and Rhodes chested home from a yard out, diving to meet the low cross.
The lead was doubled two minutes later, and it was Rhodes again, crashing home a far more spectacular effort from 20 yards despite the Chairboys’ appeal for a foul in the build-up, leading to a yellow card for dissent to Sam Saunders.
Matt Bloomfield saw a low shot deflected wide as the Blues pushed for an instant response, which came from the resulting corner courtesy of Paris Cowan-Hall’s quick reactions. Charles nodded Saunders’ deep delivery into danger and Ben Godfrey inexplicably smashed a header against his own crossbar, with the rebound falling kindly for Cowan-Hall to bundle home.
Rhodes should have had his hat-trick on 20 minutes when he glanced a header out for a throw when he should have hit the target, before Nick Freeman flashed a low shot past the near post from outside the box.
It was fast and frantic, with both teams looking capable of adding to their tally, but importantly Wanderers were keeping themselves in the game, tightening up at the back and keeping a leash on that man Rhodes, although he did have a goal disallowed after getting the better of Ryan Allsop in a one-on-one duel.
At the other end, excellent build-up play from Saunders gave Freeman the chance to drill in a low cross which was intercepted before reaching Mackail-Smith, and then Mario Vrancic bent a chance over the bar from 20 yards.
But just as Wanderers looked to be heading to the break with a narrow deficit to chase, their task was made tougher by City’s third goal, which was all too simple for Tom Trybull. A well-drilled corner from the right flew perfectly into his path and the German made no mistake, placing a bullet header past Allsop.
Ivo Pinto and Dominic Gape were booked for an altercation on 44 minutes, and there was a chance for Cowan-Hall to pull one back in stoppage time when he just failed to connect with Sido Jombati’s header towards the back post from a free-kick.
So it was 3-1 to City at the interval, though the game could have been out of sight on 49 minutes when Felix Passlack sent a first-time shot at goal, requiring a smart stop low down by Allsop.
Then Dennis Srbeny blasted a shot against the bar at the end of a mazy run from Vrancic, with Wycombe holding on dearly to the slender grip they had on the cup tie.
And that grip seemingly disappeared altogether when Rhodes completed his hat-trick on 52 minutes, meeting Ivo Pinto’s clever cross from deep with a toe which took it beyond Allsop to make it 4-1, with his ninth goal in three visits to Adams Park.
The hosts were awarded a penalty on the hour-mark when Christoph Zimmerman tripped Alex Samuel in the box, and Sam Saunders dispatched the spot-kick with confidence, making it 4-2 with 30 minutes still to play.
Gareth Ainsworth made a double change, introducing Adebayo Akinfenwa and Michael Harriman for Darius Charles and Matt Bloomfield, and then saw his side twice come close to scoring a third, with Michael McGovern expertly tipping away Alex Samuel’s header from a cross before Nick Freeman drilled wide.
Craig Mackail-Smith fired into the side netting at the end of a mazy run between two defenders, and then came the moment that gave all home fans hope, when Adebayo Akinfenwa bundled home his first of the season to make it 4-3.
McGovern had produced a wonder save to deny Mackail-Smith’s shot only for Samuel to fire the ball across the face of goal and Akinfenwa was in the right place to ensure it reached the net.
All of a sudden, Wanderers believed, and Norwich panicked, making a change when Jamal Lewis replaced the lively Louis Thompson.
Tom Trybull made a succession of blocks to deny goalbound efforts on 82 minutes before Ainsworth made his final change, introducing Scott Kashket for Samuel.
City shored up their defence by bringing on Timm Klose to man-mark Akinfenwa, with creative midfielder Buendia making way, but Akinfenwa still got the better of his markers to tee up Nick Freeman for an effort which was held by McGovern.
Then Marco Stiepermann replaced Srbeny for the Canaries as the clock ticked towards 90, and Saunders rolled a shot agonisingly past the post as he bore down on goal on the left-hand side of the box.
Four minutes of stoppage time gave Wanderers hope but City hung on to seal their place in round four, with the Blues looking to take the positives into Saturday’s league clash with Southend at Adams Park.
Attendance: 3,947 (1,439 from Norwich)
50/50 Draw Numbers
Blue £1: 05751 (Prize: £362.00)
Orange: 26101 (Prize: £77.00)