Rampant Barnsley made it nine wins in 10 matches as Valerien Ismael’s side stepped up their exciting Championship promotion bid with victory at bottom club Wycombe.
It took a soft, disputed Cauley Woodrow penalty to set them on their way in first-half injury time after home defender Ryan Tafazolli’s light tug on Barnsley defender Michal Helik.
But two superb second-half strikes from January deadline signing Daryl Dike – the first a bullet header, the second a first-time finish from eight yards – wrapped up the Tykes’ fifth successive away win.
The goals came either side of Barnsley skipper Alex Mowatt being given a straight red card on 73 minutes for a two-footed tackle.
But Barnsley made light of their one-man disadvantage with Dike’s second goal on 81 minutes.
Uche Ikpeazu finally got a consolation goal for Wycombe, who finished strongly, going close twice more in an ill-tempered climax.
Wycombe had won twice in six games, as many wins as in their previous 20 matches. But Barnsley are now unbeaten in 12 games, their longest unbeaten run in the second tier or above since February 2002.
And it was always going to be a long way back after referee Darren Bond opted to give a penalty when Woodrow’s powerful header was blocked and Helik went down very easily as he tried to latch onto the rebound.
The penalty came two minutes into first-half injury time – and home manager Gareth Ainsworth was still making his feelings known to the match officials as they disappeared down the tunnel.
But worse was to follow for Wycombe when Barnsley struck again four minutes after the restart when Mads Andersen nodded back across goal and Dike bustled in to power home a close-range header.
Hopes rose for the hosts when Mowatt was sent off for his challenge on Scott Kashket – a decision which Barnsley boss Ismael said they will appeal against, in the hope of not losing their skipper to an automatic three-game ban.
Butinstead it was Barnsley who closed the door on a comeback when, from Callum Brittain’s beautifully delivered near-post right-wing cross, Dike steered home his low right-foot shot.
Ikpeazu had the last word and there could have been more late joy for the still spirited Buckinghamshire side. But, with just nine games left now to make up a 12-point gap to safety, their prospects look bleak.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth:
“I’ve just said to my players that if they keep playing like that every game, we’ll stay up because teams will not be able to handle that. I’m really proud of the boys. They were outstanding. The work-rate and the effort was just awesome.
“Barnsley are the form team in the league. Ismael is doing a brilliant job. But they’ve scored three goals and then they shut up shop when they went down to 10 men because, at 2-1, they’re worried about their lead.
“At 3-1 they had that safety. There was a lot of appealing from the opposition bench and it went a bit crazy sometimes. The crowd would have loved that, though – it was a full-blooded battle with both teams going for it.”
Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael:
“We expected a fight against a Wycombe side who play with a lot of energy, a never-give-up mentality and it was important for us to face that and to stay strong.
“The red card for us was never, ever a red card – the referee lost control. It was the feeling on the pitch that Wycombe were going to try everything not really properly – some situations were really embarrassing.
“The referee lost completely the control and that’s why we have to appeal the decision. We will do because it is unjust, what has happened against Alex.
“It was never a bad foul – he tackled over the ball without a straight leg and that’s why we can’t accept this. We have to fight against it.”
- 26McCarthySubstituted forSamuelat 82′minutes
- 12KnightBooked at 90mins
- 3JacobsonBooked at 90mins
- 33MehmetiSubstituted forKashketat 53′minutes
- 17HorganSubstituted forAkinfenwaat 80′minutes
- 26SollbauerSubstituted forSibbickat 63′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 21PalmerSubstituted forHalmeat 62′minutes
- 27MowattBooked at 73mins
- 4StylesBooked at 59minsSubstituted forWilliamsat 70′minutes
- 28FrieserSubstituted forMorrisat 63′minutesBooked at 77mins
- 9WoodrowSubstituted forKaneat 75′minutes
Match ends, Wycombe Wanderers 1, Barnsley 3.
Second Half ends, Wycombe Wanderers 1, Barnsley 3.
Attempt saved. Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Scott Kashket with a through ball.
Attempt missed. Alex Samuel (Wycombe Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Garath McCleary.
Toby Peter Sibbick (Barnsley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe Wanderers).
Toby Peter Sibbick (Barnsley) is shown the yellow card.
Joe Jacobson (Wycombe Wanderers) is shown the yellow card.
Josh Knight (Wycombe Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Daryl Dike (Barnsley) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Josh Knight (Wycombe Wanderers).
Foul by Daryl Dike (Barnsley).
David Stockdale (Wycombe Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Wycombe Wanderers 1, Barnsley 3. Uche Ikpeazu (Wycombe Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner.
Substitution, Wycombe Wanderers. Alex Samuel replaces Jason McCarthy.
Goal! Wycombe Wanderers 0, Barnsley 3. Daryl Dike (Barnsley) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Callum Brittain with a cross.
Substitution, Wycombe Wanderers. Adebayo Akinfenwa replaces Daryl Horgan.
Hand ball by Uche Ikpeazu (Wycombe Wanderers).
Carlton Morris (Barnsley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott Kashket (Wycombe Wanderers).