Wanderers suffered a blow to their survival hopes, losing 1-0 to Rochdale and being made to pay for a host of missed opportunities in the first 45 minutes.
A lively attacking display, spearheaded by Scott Kashket, saw the Blues on top for large parts of the game but after their clinical touch eluded them, Ian Henderson showed how it was done, finding himself in the right place at the right time to bundle home late on.
Wanderers applied real pressure to the home defence in the closing stages but couldn't summon the equaliser, adding extra significance to the visit of Walsall to Adams Park on Monday.
Gareth Ainsworth named the same starting XI for the third game running, buoyed by recent performances against Charlton and, most notably, Southend, in which the Blues ended their long wait for a victory six days earlier.
On a bright, sunny afternoon at the Crown Oil Arena, Wanderers – in orange – started well against their opponents who sat just two points below them in the table, with Scott Kashket in particular posing a constant threat, almost collecting an Adebayo Akinfenwa flick-on in the area in the first minute, and then just being unable to convert a loose ball from a corner.
A third half-chance arose when Akinfenwa lofted ball forward following a Rochdale corner and Kashket escaped his man to latch on to it, one-on-one with the keeper, but his efforts to poke it past the keeper were thwarted by the home side’s no.1 grabbing it on the edge of the box.
Opportunities kept coming, with Adam El-Abd seeing a header blocked from a Jason McCarthy corner, and Alex Samuel’s shot on the turn taking a deflection which killed its momentum and the keeper gathered with ease.
Kashket and Samuel had further opportunities blocked, before Rochdale were forced into a change due to an injury to right-back Ryan McLaughlin, with Jimmy Keohane taking his place.
There were a couple of flash points when referee Andy Haines denied Dale a free-kick inside the box, claiming El-Abd’s touch back to Allsop – who handled – was deliberate, before Joe Bunney went down under a challenge, but the man in black waved away the appeals, before Kashket saw another chance blocked at point blank range.
Kashket was involved again before the break, meeting Allsop’s long punt with a sublime touch on the right wing before drifting in and unleashing a drive which took a nick onto the bar, and then saw the ball squirm agonisingly wide following a challenge with the keeper from Akinfenwa’s flick-on.
All this action came before the half-time whistle – a sound which came as a relief to the hosts – who’d been dominated by their opponents, and were lucky to be level, though Ian Henderson did have a sight of goal when sidefooting a Done cross over the bar in stoppage time.
The hosts began the brighter of the two sides in the first 10 minutes of the second half, forcing a couple of set pieces, but back came the Wanderers with two big chances. First, Akinfenwa held off his man and poked towards the near post, being denied by the keeper’s outstretched left leg, and then Alex Samuel was sent free but saw his shot cleared off the line by a covering defender after taking the ball round the keeper.
Nick Freeman had a header saved before Dale made their second enforced change, bringing on forward Rekeil Pyke for injured defender Kgosi Ntlhe, which prompted a tactical reshuffle from the home side.
Wycombe’s first substitution saw Paris Cowan-Hall replace Scott Kashket, who’d had a quieter second half than the first, while there’s also Monday’s visit of Walsall to Adams Park to keep in mind.
Rochdale had come into the game on good form since Brian Barry-Murphy’s appointment as manager and their crowd summoned belief as the game wore on, spurring their side on to raise their game in the final 20 minutes. Curtis Thompson blocked a dangerous chance at the back post, before the breakthrough came with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Firstly Ryan Allsop made a vital block with his legs as the hosts overloaded Wycombe on one side of the box, but the chance stayed alive and a deep cross was headed goalwards, denied by a combination of Allsop’s fingertips and crossbar. Another effort was cleared off the line but Ian Henderson was on hand to force it home from close range.
Calvin Andrew came off the bench to add extra height to the home defence when defending set pieces, and they saw the game out – but only just, with Wanderers being denied by some last ditch defending in the box after applying late pressure, and Sido Jombati saw a shot squirm agonisingly wide with virtually the last kick.