Adebayo Akinfenwa and substitute Paris Cowan-Hall gave Wycombe Wanderers a crucial victory as they comfortably beat Hartlepool United 2-0 at Victoria Park.
The first goal came on 24 minutes after some devastating link-up play between Akinfenwa, Myles Weston and Dayle Southwell allowed the big man to bulldoze his way into the area and place the ball past Joe Fryer.
Cowan-Hall then sealed the win with a cool finish past the Hartlepool custodian, when he raced onto Dominic Gape’s excellent pass and rounded off a superb victory for Gareth Ainsworth’s men.
However, deep into second half injury-time, the winger was given a a second yellow card by referee David Webb after a melee involving both sets of players.
Fryer was by far the busier of the two keepers, producing a series of excellent saves in the second half.
Early on, both teams were jostling for possession and Hartlepool had the first shot on 15 minutes when Lewis Alessandra produced a lungbursting run but his shot from distance went high and wide.
A minute later, Sam Saunders tried an ambitious effort from long-range but his effort curled over Joe Fryer’s bar.
Wycombe were starting to assert their authority on their game and Fryer had to be alert to claim Michael Harriman’s teasing cross.
And Wycombe made it count when Southwell nonchalantly put the ball into the path for ‘The Beast’ who placed it into the net.
Dave Jones’ side had a chance on 33 minutes from the edge of the area but Nathan Thomas blazed it over.
Thomas again was causing problems and his fierce low cross on 35 minutes was blocked away by a combination of Jamal Blackman and Will De Havilland.
The second half started with both teams battling for possession once more. Brad Walker had the first shot in anger on 49 minutes but his free kick cleared the stand.
The tricky Alessandra then had another effort moments later when he tricked his way into the box but he dragged his shot just wide of the far post.
Weston then had a good chance to double Wanderers’ lead on 53 minutes but his header was well stopped by Fryer after excellent work by Harriman on the right.
The Chairboys were starting to get on top in the second half and Luke O’Nien almost scored a stunner on 57 minutes as his strike whistled just wide from 25 yards.
Both teams were really giving their all as the game was becoming a real battle in midfield but Southwell almost produced a stunner on 65 minutes when his rocket was superbly tipped over by Fryer.
Gape then tried his luck from distance but again Fryer was equal to it, acrobatically tipping it wide.
Blackman then pulled off heroics of his own, denying Scott Harrison’s header with a brilliant save on 73 minutes.
Paris Cowan-Hall almost sealed the win for Wycombe on 84 minutes but he saw his acrobatic effort just go over.
However, Cowan-Hall had the final say with a terrific finish before being sent off for an early bath.
Wycombe now sit just three points off the playoffs as the season is closing in on an exciting climax.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Blackman, Harriman, De Havilland, Pierre (sub: Muller, 32), Jacobson, Gape, O’Nien, Saunders, Weston, Akinfenwa (sub: Cowan-Hall, 55), Southwell (sub: Thompson, 83). Subs: Richardson, Jombati, Freeman, Jakubiak.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Fryer, Richardson, Harrison, Walker, Deverdics, Feathersone, Woods, Hawkins (sub: Rooney, 73), Alessandra, Amond, Thomas. Subs: Bartlett, Martin, Bates, Hawkes, Orrell, Rodney.
REFEREE: David Webb
ATTENDANCE: 3,356 (Wycombe 159)