Wycombe Wanderers 1, Barnsley 0
(SkyBet League One)
The support for Barnsley at Adams Park was outstanding, just short of a thousand fans making the trip to cheer on their side.
It was so disappointing that it was not matched by the performance by the players on the pitch.
The Reds were way below the standard one would expect from a side chasing promotion in an encounter that was generally poor in quality and they will have to play considerably better than this if they are to take anything at all from the game next Saturday when runaway leaders Portsmouth visit Oakwell.
It was so frustrating, because the team has proved that, at its best, it can match the the top teams in League One.
If a penalty appeal had gone in their favour during the first half it might have been a different story, but Wanderers were similarly aggrieved when they had a spot-kick appeal turned down early on.
With Dimitri Cavare suspended, the Reds had to make one enforced change from the eleven which started the successful FA Cup tie at Southend the previous week, Jacob Brown coming in at right-back.
There was little of note in the first half, both teams struggling to create chances, but there were two moments of controversy featuring referee Antony Coggins, who was unimpressed by two confident shouts for a penalty.
The home team thought that it was a foul when Cameron McGeehan challenged Samuel. So did the visitors when George Moncur went down as he tip-toed his way goalwards, and the latter was so incensed by the decision that his reaction resulted in a booking.
Alex Mowatt brought a routine save from Wycombe’s debutant on-loan goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, who was then tested far more severely following a Mowatt corner, leaping to turn away a goalbound Ethan Pinnock header.
At the other end a header from Adam El-Abd failed to extent Adam Davies in the Barnsley goal, but Wanderers went close to breaking the deadlock when a near post flick by Alex Samuel from Nathan Tyson’s cross went narrowly wide.
Otherwise the Reds’ defence coped well with the barrage of balls lofted into the box from all angles.
However, a ten-minute spell of pressure at the start of the second half brought the goal that eventually secured the three points for Wycombe, for whom it was a club record sixth successive home win.
Davies came to the Reds rescue with a brilliant save, acrobatically finger-tipping the ball on to the bar from a shot by Randell Williams, but the latter was not to be denied and he got the better of the Barnsley ‘keeper in the 54th minute.
Davies punched away a corner, but Brown failed to complete the clearance and Williams pounced to volley the loose ball into the roof of the net from 20 yards.
The Reds had only themselves to blame. They had started the second half in extremely lethargic fashion, thus handing the initiative to their hosts, who seized their opportunity – and then dropped deeper and deeper into defence determined to hold on to their slender lead.
Stendel rang the changes in a desperate bid to salvage at least a point from the game, Brad Potts replacing Mike Bahre, Mamadou Thiam going on for Zeki Fryers, with Mowatt switching to left back, and central defender Pinnock assuming the role of co-striker alongside Kieffer Moore.
But it was all to no avail. Despite their continued pressure the Reds failed to create any clear-cut chances and the best they could manage was a last minute stoppage time effort from Pinnock which sailed over the bar from 15 yards.
Defeat meant that the Reds dropped into fifth place with 35 points, 12 points adrift of leaders Portsmouth, their next opponents, and six off the other automatic promotion spot, currently held by Luton Town.
Wycombe Wanderers: Henderson; McCarthy, Coelho Jombati, El-Abd, Jacobson, Onyedinma, Thompson, Gade, Williams, Tyson, Samuel.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; Brown, Pinnock, Lindsay, Fryers (Thiam, 76 mins); Bahre, Mowatt, McGeehan, Moncur; Woodrow (J Williams, 54 mins), Moore.
Referee: Antony Coggins.
Attendance: 5,225 (941 Reds).