Wycombe Wanderers suffered a severe dent to their playoff hopes as they lost 1-0 to fellow promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town at Adams Park.
Krystian Pearce grabbed the game’s only goal on 13 minutes when he nodded into an empty net after his initial header came back off the bost from Joel Byrom’s free kick.
Wanderers came close on several occasions in the second half, with Adebayo Akinfenwa coming closest as he saw his bullet header brilliantly saved by Jake Kean.
With two minutes remaining, Akinfenwa was again denied by more heroics from Kean as the big striker’s flick was destined for the top corner before the Mansfield stopper intervened.
Mansfield had the first chance of the game on two minutes when Danny Rose cracked a fierce strike at goal from the edge of the box but Jamal Blackman saved calmly.
The next chance fell to the Stags which was duly dispatched by Pearce as Wycombe failed to get into their stride in the first 15 minutes.
Wanderers almost got an equaliser on 32 minutes when Rhys Bennett came close to scoring an own goal as his header wrongfooted Kean in the Mansfield goal but landed on the roof of the net.
A minute later, Mansfield broke away and Alfie Potter got into the Wycombe area but he saw his shot superbly blocked by Michael Harriman.
The visitors once again nearly doubled their advantage when a cross from Mal Benning on the left fell to Potter who saw his shot heroically blocked on the line by Aaron Pierre.
Right on half-time, Akinfenwa came so close to producing a moment of magic as he controlled expertly and slammed a ferocious shot inches over the bar.
The Chairboys were on the front foot at the start of the second half.
Akinfenwa again almost got Wycombe an equaliser on 54 minutes but his header was deflected over by Bennett when it looked certain to go in after an excellent cross by Garry Thompson.
‘The Beast’ had a half chance five minutes later when he was allowed to turn in the box but his snapshot was blazed over.
The Blues were inching closer and Thompson cracked a shot wide from 20 yards with half an hour remaining.
Wycombe were well in the ascendency midway through the second half but were being kept at bay by a rock-solid Stags backline.
Scott Kashket was the next in line to test the Mansfield defence and his rasping drive was desperately blocked by Pearce in the nick of time with 20 minutes left.
Kean made an excellent save on 75 minutes to deny Joe Jacobson’s free-kick, parrying out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, the visitors again desperately blocked away with Akinfenwa lurking in the box.
Mansfield’s keeper then produced two top class saves in the last quarter of an hour to deny Akinfenwa twice and enable the visitors to take away three points they barely deserved.
Gareth Ainsworth’s men will now have to win their remaining four games to have a chance of reaching the League Two playoffs.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Blackman, Harriman, Jombati, Pierre, Jacobson, Bean, O’Nien, Bloomfield (sub: Freeman, 76), Thompson (sub: Weston, 81), Kashket (sub: Jakubiak, 87), Akinfenwa. Subs: Richardson, Saunders, Gape, Freeman, Hayes.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Pearce, Taft, Potter (sub: Macdonald, 69), Green (sub: Coulthirst, 63), White, Byrom, Whiteman, Rose (sub: Arquin, 83). Subs: Jensen, Howkins, McGuire, Baxendale.
REFEREE: Robert Jones