Gareth Ainsworth could not hide his relief after Wycombe’s topsy-turvy 2-1 win over Rochdale was secured by Joe Jacobson’s stoppage-time penalty.
The Chairboys were seven points clear at the top of League One at Christmas but a run of five games without a win saw them come close to slipping out of the automatic promotion places.
And when Ryan Allsop’s clearance ricocheted off Ian Henderson’s back and dropped into the back of the net, Ainsworth must have feared the worst.
But Jason McCarthy levelled on his third Wycombe debut and Jacobson struck late on to keep the hosts second.
“That was a really big day for us,” said manager Ainsworth.
“It was important for us to banish the blues of our recent run of form.
“We had to be ourselves and we did that – it’s a really big result for us after a few tough weeks.
“I have no criticism of Ryan over how we conceded the goal. It was a freak incident and 99 times out of 100 his clearance goes safe and it’s a non-event.
“It started with errors in midfield but people will remember Ryan’s clearance and that’s the nature of football.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the win. We’ve been on good runs and a bad run this season – hopefully we’ve come out the other side of that now.
“It’s great to still be in the mix at the top despite our recent form.”
The first half was full of incident as Henderson’s comical opener was cancelled out by McCarthy, whose cross-shot which looped over Jay Lynch also had more than a hint of fortune.
It was all Wycombe in the second half and Rochdale, fresh from a 4-1 FA Cup replay defeat to Newcastle in midweek, could not hold back the tide late on.
Teenage record-breaker Luke Matheson hauled down sub Paul Smyth in the box for the eventual winning penalty.
Matheson has had a terrific first full season at senior level, capped by a memorable goal at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup, and Dale boss Brian Barry-Murphy rallied around the 17-year-old.
“I think it’s very easy to let what happened in the last moment of the game cloud the judgement of the performance,” he said.
“My honest assessment of the game was that we were brilliant really.
“We were excellent in the second half. I thought we could have been better in the first half but we grew into the game.
“Luke is going to get plenty of opportunities to show how good he is. He’s arguably our most dynamic one-on-one defender.
“We always ask him to be first on the scene in those situations because he controls them so well.
“His defending all day was excellent, it was a brilliant day for him but he doesn’t feel like that right now.”