Wycombe fell just short of holding promotion chasing Portsmouth as a Brett Pitman brace helped the visitors on their way to a 3-2 victory at Adams Park on Saturday.
The visitors flew out of the blocks and took the lead through Jamal Lowe inside 18 minutes after the forward fired in through a number of bodies.
Jason McCarthy’s free-kick and a skilled strike from Paris Cowan-Hall forced fine saves from Craig MacGillivray in the Portsmouth goal before the visitors doubled their advantage a minute after the interval through Pitman.
Marcus Bean scored a collector’s item to halve the deficit for the hosts only for Pitman to curl in an exceptional free-kick just minutes later.
The score line looked to flatter the south coast side and a thunderous strike from Scott Kashket saw Wanderers pull back a second but, despite their best efforts, the Blues couldn’t find a leveller in the time that remained.
The Chairboys made four changes to their starting eleven as Ryan Allsop, Matt Bloomfield, Cowan-Hall and Michael Harriman came in to replace Yves Ma-Kalambay, Curtis Thompson, Joe Jacobson and Adebayo Akinfenwa after Wycombe’s late 2-1 defeat to Oxford United last weekend.
Wanderers were coming into the game looking for their first win since the end of January but were up against a Portsmouth side high in confidence after their Checkatrade Trophy triumph last Sunday.
It was Pompey’s confidence that shone through in the early stages forcing three corners in the opening three minutes before coming close just eleven minutes in when Lowe curled a left-footed strike inches over from just outside the area.
Moments later the visitors were on the front foot again as Pitman curled an effort that tricked the travelling fans into thinking an opener had been scored but in truth it crept over Allsop’s bar by even finer margins.
Portsmouth had been piling on the pressure and soon enough they did break the deadlock when a long free-kick saw the ball fall at the feet of Lowe who side-footed through a number of bodies to give the away side the lead.
The tempo of the game looked to slow down after Pompey’s opener and it wasn’t until ten minutes before the break that Gareth Ainsworth’s side were able to threaten as McCarthy’s 25 yard free-kick was fired towards the goalkeeper’s side but MacGillivray made a great save to tip it round the post.
The Chairboys were finally beginning to find their feet as McCarthy’s corner fell to Cowan-Hall at the back-post whose half-volley tested MacGillivray’s reactions but the man between the sticks proved up to the task once more.
Deep into stoppage time Lowe was denied a second as Allsop parried away his low curled effort but Wycombe’s hopes of getting back into the game looked dashed when Pitman capitalised on Anthony Stewart’s mistake as last man and slotted home inside just 40 seconds of the restart.
Just as they did after the first goal, Wanderers reacted well after conceding the second as Cowan-Hall saw another attempt saved by MacGillivray before the hosts managed to pull one back through the unlikely source of Bean who latched onto a knockdown from a long free-kick to give Ainsworth’s men hope.
Sadly for the hosts, the deficit only remained halved for five minutes as McCarthy brought down Gareth Evans right on the edge of the penalty box which allowed Pitman to curl in a great strike to regain Pompey’s two-goal cushion on the hour mark.
Chances continued to flow for both sides as Allsop made a great save to deny Matt Clarke at his near-post before Alex Samuel forced another save from MacGillivray as the Chairboys continued to put on a spirited display.
With eight minutes left of normal time to play it was game on once more as Scott Kashket rocketed in a ferocious effort to restore faith amongst the home crowd.
Ainsworth’s side threw everything in the time that remained but were unfortunate not to create a clear-cut chance as Portsmouth ran out 3-2 winners.
The result sees the Chairboys drop to 19th, just a point above the relegation zone but with a game in hand that they will look to make count when they host Charlton at Adams Park on Tuesday.