Wanderers 0, Morecambe 1,

Wanderers dropped to fifth in League Two after Morecambe struck four minutes from time to deal Blues a huge blow in the race for the final automatic promotion spot.

Adams Park watched on in stunned silence as Paul Mullin headed the visitors in front after 86 minutes of a tight, tense and tetchy affair.

Alfie Mawson had earlier hit the bar for the hosts before Matt Ingram kept the Shrimps at bay with a string of fine second half saves.

The home side pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t find one and results elsewhere mean Wanderers head into next weekend’s season finale against Northampton with their fate out of their own hands.

Aaron Pierre’s one match ban and Wanderers’ extensive injury list forced Gareth Ainsworth into employing Nico Yennaris at centre-back, Marcus Bean at right back and meant that he could name only five players on the bench.

Five became four during the warm-up when Sam Saunders, who was listed in the starting XI, pulled up in the warm-up and was replaced by Max Kretzschmar to deal the Blues boss another blow.

Better news came in the form of last week’s injured duo – Matt Bloomfield and Yennaris – who both recovered from injuries sustained in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon to take their places in the starting line-up.

The Wycombe manager, in the knowledge that their fate was back in their hands after Bury lost to Southend on Tuesday night, stated in his programme notes of how he hoped that they would be his last of the season wishing and that he will not be required to pen some more.

He was of course referring to a potential play-off encounter, but the 41-year-old knew that would not be required should they win their final two matches of the season.

Unsurprisingly, a makeshift Wanderers team made a slow start but after a nervous first couple of minutes they carved out the opening chance of the match.

Sam Wood, who was once again filling in at left-back, advanced down his flank and floated a cross to the middle of the box where Fred Onyedinma planted a firm header down the throat of Andrea Arestidou.

In marked contrast to the home side, the visitors arrived at Adams Park with nothing to play for and it was the Chairboys’ greater desire which came tantilisngly close to producing the first goal after 13 minutes.

Onyedinma took the ball on his chest and laid it back into the path of Paul Hayes, who shaped to shoot before rolling it to the edge of the box where Murphy arrived to send a fizzing shot inches wide of the post.

Jim Bentley’s side looked short of ideas going forward so it was no surprise when their first effort on goal came via a set piece as Shrimps captain Mark Hughes’ header called Ingram into action from Jamie Devitt’s corner.

A nasty clash of heads between Kretzschmar and Mawson, as the latter went to clear the ball, sparked flashbacks of the collision between Bloomfield and Murphy last weekend which left the former unable to play on.

On this occasion Kretzschmar received treatment before being declared fit to jog back onto the pitch.

With every minute that passed without a goal the tension built a little more inside Adams Park and Ainsworth nodded in agreement with a fan who shouted “shoot” after Hayes had tried to be a little too intricate un the build-up rather than have a crack at goal himself.

Some fans among the vociferous home support will have been checking their phones to keep up with results at Gigg Lane and Roots Hall, and with five minutes left until half-time news filtered through that Tom Soares had put Bury in front against Wimbledon.

The match in West Wycombe had become a tight, tense and tetchy affair as both sides traded long balls on a rock hard pitch which wasn’t conducive to flowing football.

Moments after the fourth official had shown three minutes of added time would be played the visitors fired a warning shot which suggested they could yet derail Blues’ promotion push.

Top scorer Kevin Ellison spun and played a through ball in behind the hosts’ backline to Jack Redshaw, who took a touch before seeing his powerful effort well saved by the feet of Ingram.

Wanderers had mustered just one effort on target in the first 45 minutes while Morecambe managed double that, and shortly after the restart they took their tally to three when Ellison drove straight at Ingram from a narrow angle.

That chance sparked Blues into life and from the ensuing passage of play they earned themselves a corner.

In the absence of Saunders, Wood curled the ball in and Mawson rattled the crossbar with a thumping header which bounced down, and to Wycombe’s despair, rebounded away from the goal.

A matter of seconds later the home side were incensed as after Arestidou failed to hold the ball he seemingly got Steven Craig in a headlock and stopped the striker from reaching the loose ball.

Ainsworth appealed madly but his cries went unanswered as the referee waved away his protests.

The Blues boss then led the inquest into who had failed to pick up Hughes as he peeled to the back post and forced Ingram into a close range save from a free header following Devitt’s corner.

At the other end Onyedinma’s pace was causing trouble and he won a free-kick in a dangerous area after Andy Parish had caught him on the edge of the box.

Mawson, Wood and Yennaris lined it up before the later sent a disappointing side-foot effort into the wall.

Morecambe’s main threat was coming from corners and Wanderers’ failure to pick up their men resulted in another glorious chance for the visitors as the unmarked Alex Kenyon volleyed straight at Ingram from the penalty spot.

Ainsworth needed to alter the flow of the game and he turned to his three outfield players on the bench and chose to send on Hogan Ephraim for the tiring Kretzschmar.

As the game ticked towards the 70th minute the Shrimps once again exploited Wycombe’s frailties from set pieces and they were only rescued by a spectacular one handed diving save from Ingram, who turned away Kenyon’s header which looked destined to nestle in the bottom corner.

The Blues stopper has earned a reputation as the best in League Two and he showed just why with another couple of tremendous stops to keep the scores level.

First he reacted smartly to back pedal and tip substitute Padraig Amond’s header over before he produced an even better fingertip save to deny Kevin Ellison – again a header from a corner.

All the chances were being created by Morecambe and the influential Devitt played in Mullin, who tested Ingram with a low shot from a tight angle.

The tension in the stadium was palpable and it reached fever point after 81 minutes when a scramble in Morecambe’s box saw Mawson throw himself at the loose ball and head it goalwards. Unfortunately for the home crowd the defender’s header was straight at Arestidou.

The moment which each and every Wycombe fan in the ground had dreaded arrived with just four minutes left to play as Mullin peeled away to the back post an placed his header past the helpless Ingram.

Wanderers pushed late on with Ingram even coming up for a corner but they couldn’t carve out another chance and they fell to a demoralising defeat.

Wanderers: Ingram, Yennaris, Mawson, Wood, Murphy, Kretzschmar (Ephraim), Bloomfield, Bean, Craig (Holloway), Hayes, Onyedinma
Substitutes not used: Lynch, Fletcher,

Morecambe: Arestidou, Beeley, Devitt, Kenyon, Hughes, Redshaw (Amond), Ellison, Wildig, Fleming (Mullin), Wilson, Parrish
Substitutes not used: Stewart, Wright, Goodall, McGowan, Bondswell
Goals: Mullin 86

Referee: Mr L Collins
Assistant referees: Mr N Hair and Mr P Reese
Fourth official: Mr A Coggins