Wednesday night saw a physically tough game at Adams Park, as a high-flying Barnsley side came out 3-1 victors.
Barnsley converted a soft penalty at the end of the first half before scoring twice through Daryl Dike in open play in the second.
Uche Ikpeazu added to his goal tally, scoring Wycombe’s solitary goal in a niggly second half which saw Gareth Ainsworth throw attacking players forwards in an attempt to get something from the game.
Wycombe piled on the pressure in the opening minutes, as Anis Mehmeti quick-footed past the Barnsley right-back and did well to win a corner. Joe Jacobson stepped up to deliver. Barnsley adopted an interesting zonal marking tactic and it looked mismatched with the Wycombe attack - Ryan Tafazolli rising up practically unchallenged to meet the header which bounced too close to Brad Collins to be dangerous.
The away side were quick to grab their first chance of the game though, as Daryl Dike found himself some space on the edge of the box and would have got a shot away if it weren’t for a well-timed Jacobson.
There were some top battles going on in the middle of the park - not pretty but both sides clearly searching for the initial breakthrough.
There were glimpses of something concrete as the clock ticked on. David Stockdale showcased some top distribution, as his pacey drop kick found Horgan on the left-hand side to turn the Barnsley line back on themselves. Horgan’s switch to the McCleary was pinpoint accurate and our number 19 turned on the pace to drop his player and drive into the box. His squared ball was cleared, but it was a great glimpse of what Wycombe could offer.
Barnsley picked up the pace as the game reached the half an hour mark. Winning two free kicks from soft fouls in dangerous areas. Both were delivered long into the box and scrambled clear. Scrappy was fast becoming the adjective to describe the game - both teams playing long searching balls for attacking players to run onto, often pinballing around the midfield.
Wycombe were extremely unlucky to concede a penalty as the half ticked into stoppage time for a supposed pull from Tafazolli. Cauley Woodrow stepped up to the spot and slotted into the bottom right corner past Stockdale.
Half time: Wycombe 0-1 Barnsley
An initially bright half to the second half was brought crashing down in the 49th minute as Wycombe couldn’t clear their lines. A header came back across the box from the left-hand side, and no Wycombe defender nor Stockdale could do enough to get there ahead of Daryl Dike.
Gareth Ainsworth made his first change of the game on the 54th minute, as Anis Mehmeti made way for Scott Kashket.
The game was getting more and more niggly, as both Wycombe and Barnsley players began to dive into tackles. Tempers flaring, Callum Styles received a yellow for a poorly-timed byline challenge on Jason McCarthy.
It didn’t take too much longer for Barnsley’s feisty challenges to receive some penance, as captain Alex Mowatt saw red from referee Darren Bond for a two-footed challenge on Kashket. Barnsley down to 10 men, and Wycombe up for the fight - 17 minutes to make something of the game.
Ainsworth brought on some more attacking legs as Daryl Horgan made way for Adebayo Akinfenwa in the 80th minute.
However, the increased attacking focus saw Wycombe concede again. Barnsley getting forward down the right-hand side through Callum Brittain, who’s cross saw Daryl Dike tip it past Stockdale and into the back of the net.
A clearly frustrated Chairboys side set up again and threw themselves at the game. Yet another attacking-minded player was called into action as Alex Samuel replaced Jason McCarthy. Samuel immediately pressed the Barnsley back line and almost got something as he shot the side netting.
The pressure paid off in the 85th minute - Akinfenwa sent an audacious flick down the left-hand side to find McCleary, who hot-footed past his defender to deliver the cross. Uche slid in at the back post to score his fourth league goal of the season.
Once the referee finally regained some control of the game, Wycombe had to absorb the pressure from Barnsley before turning up the tempo again. Samuel had a golden chance as a cross into the box was headed high and wide in the 95th minute. Then, Akinfenwa had arguably his best chance of the season as he found himself able to get a shot off within the 18-yard-box. Again, to no avail.
Unfortunately, despite Wycombe throwing players forward and lessening the deficit, it was not enough; High-flying Barnsley continued their great run of form which has seen them become firm contenders in the promotion race.
Full time: Wycombe 1-3 Barnsley
Wycombe will look to bounce back on Saturday as they travel to Coventry - another three points up for grabs.