Wycombe collected three valuable points in their fight against relegation from the Sky Bet Championship, as headers Ryan Tafazolli and David Wheeler gave them a 2-1 victory over Cardiff.
Tafazolli entered a corner after half an hour, before Wheeler finished the points in the second half, rounding off a sweeping motion from close range.
Cardiff created very little, falling to a third straight defeat for the first time under Neil Harris – who suffered the added ignominy of being sent to the stands late.
But they pulled out a goal in the stoppage time thanks to a header from Junior Hoilett.
It was a vital result for Wycombe, who entered the game without a win in 11 but looked like the better team throughout.
Uche Ikpeazu led the line with power and cunning, and his heist game brought the first chance – a powerful push from Anis Mehmeti that was bravely blocked by Curtis Nelson.
Ikpeazu’s other major impact has been less spectacular, but perhaps more significant – a late challenge that ended Cardiff captain Sean Morrison’s night after just 20 minutes. Leicester lender Filip Benkovic made his debut and endured a scorching spell in the middle of the defense.
When the goal came, it was Cardiff fan and academy graduate Joe Jacobson who provided the quality moment at Wycombe.
His delivery has so often been the Chairboys’ main weapon, and his corner just after the half hour begged to be attacked. Tafazolli obliged, towering over Benkovic at the far post and hitting a header past Alex Smithies to open the scoring.
Despite their possession, Cardiff produced few clear chances. The only save Wycombe goalie Ryan Allsop had to make before half-time was a comfortable save on a 25-yard drive from Harry Wilson.
Allsop was a bit busier after the break, however. First, he parried Sheyi Ojo’s thunderbolt, straight to Wilson, who should have equalized but shot.
Wilson came close again, this time sliding the ball away one-on-one, although Cardiff claimed his effort was hampered by unfair pressure from Josh Knight.
Just when Wycombe seemed to be absorbing too much, they doubled their lead. Daryl Horgan was heavily involved in a great move, which culminated in Garath McCleary’s crossing for Wheeler, who flew unmarked and headed for the net.
Cardiff ran out of ideas to bring them back into the game, throwing the ball into Wycombe’s box several times but producing no chance of a score until Hoilett found the net, via the inside of the post, with what was almost the last touch of the game.
The victory, third for Gareth Ainsworth’s team of the season, isn’t enough to lift Wycombe from the bottom of the table, but it keeps them within easy reach of their relegation rivals.
What the managers said …
Wycombe Gareth Ainsworth: “It’s amazing. It’s coming, I can’t say it’s not. We played so well and people were screaming in front of the TVs thinking the results are the game, not the performance.
“I wanted a win, I said maybe we would play badly and win, but we played well and I’m really proud of the boys, they gave me everything.”
Cardiff Neil harris: “We concede too many goals, we don’t have a clean-sheet mentality and we are too soft. We are too far from the top six for my taste. Losing games like tonight like we did is disappointing , that’s not good enough for me.
“Conceding goals like this is just not acceptable. Where is the winning mentality? Where is the white mentality? We’ve had it for so long and it’s gone. It just can’t happen if you want to compete at the top of this league.. I don’t see us doing the tough jobs to stop crosses. I don’t see us sticking our heads where it hurts. Is there enough leadership, is there- is there enough desire to want to do well? “