Adebayo Akinfenwa struck twice in quick succession to hand the Blues a priceless first win in 13 games against fellow strugglers Southend United at Roots Hall.
After a cagey and goalless first half, the Chairboys earned their rewards for fantastic hard work and endeavour when Akinfenwa slid home Scott Kashket’s low cross, and then headed home following a free-kick, before the defence did enough to secure the clean sheet.
Gareth Ainsworth named an unchanged side from the one that performed impressively without reward in the 1-0 loss to Charlton in midweek, with Matt Bloomfield returning to the bench at the expense of Ben Frempah.
Wanderers – in orange – made a bright start and earned a free-kick 25 yards out, which resulted in Dominic Gape’s low drive being blocked for a corner after Scott Kashket’s initial effort had struck the wall.
The visitors looked to press high up the pitch at every opportunity and that unsettled the hosts, who did just enough to prevent Adebayo Akinfenwa, Alex Samuel and Kashket from developing a shooting opportunity.
Southend moved the ball round well in attack, with Sam Mantom and Stephen Humphrys in particular linking up well with Simon Cox, and Timothee Dieng sent a header over a bar from a deep free-kick with their only real chance of the first half hour.
They were forced into a change when Jason Demetriou departed with an injury, as Elvis Bwomono took his place, before Akinfenwa had his first sight of goal, reaching Michael Harriman’s free-kick before the keeper but seeing his header land kindly for the keeper as it took a deflection which took away the pace of the ball.
Then Scott Kashket danced past two challenges as he drifted in from the right-hand side of the box but couldn’t keep his shot on target from 18 yards.
There were no changes at the break, but Wycombe began on the front foot again with Kashket looking lively down the right, finding acres of space in the box but penalised for a dive by referee David Coote as he went down under Harry Lennon’s challenge.
There was little between the sides, though Wanderers just looked the hungrier as they battled well against a well-drilled Southend defence, who weren’t able to help get things going higher up the pitch for the hosts. Their second change saw Stephen McLaughlin introduced for Michael Kightly, before Curtis Thompson drilled over from 25 yards and Alex Samuel looped an overhead kick over the bar.
Southend then introduced Emile Acquah for Stephen Humphrys, before Akinfenwa found himself in the referee’s notebook twice in succession… but the second occasion was the more notable. After being frustrated at being shown a yellow card for persistent fouling, the Beast found himself in the right place to slide home Scott Kashket’s delicious low cross following Nick Freeman’s clever reverse pass into the box.
And before Southend had time to adjust, they were two behind. Akinfenwa had waited two and a half months for a goal, and now had two in quick succession, looping a header home following a deep free-kick to spark pandemonium in the away end with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The hosts looked bewildered, and unable to summon any instant response, as Wycombe looked to close in on a long overdue clean sheet and three points. Akinfenwa was eventually withdrawn, with Paris Cowan-Hall taking his place, before the visitors survived a spell of pinball in their box following a corner.
But there was to be no late drama, and the long wait for a win is over – at the most crucial of times – as the Chairboys head into the Easter weekend looking to guarantee their League 1 survival.