It took a penalty shootout to decide tonight's Carabao Cup Second Round tie at Adams Park, but Rafael's heroics earned José Gomes' men progression in the cup.
The visitors had taken the lead through a glancing second half header from Alex Samuel, but Reading drew level through George Puscas four minutes later. And, with no extra time, the tie was to be decided by a shootout - Puscas, Baldock, Swift and Loader firing home and Rafael twice saving Wanderers' efforts.
Four minutes in and the Royals tested Chairboys keeper Ryan Allsop for the first time; Andy Rinomhota won the ball and slid it into the stride of Lucas Boyé whose drilled effort from a narrowing angle was well-parried by the Wycombe stopper.
Michael Morrison rose high to head just over from the resultant Charlie Adam corner as the visitors began brightly.
Eight minutes on the clock and the same combination nearly carved Wanderers open. Again Allsop saved from Boyé who had been found by the right foot of Rinomhota with a low cross. And again Morrison connected with the resultant corner, this time rippling the side netting with a cushioned back post volley.
Nick Freeman tested Rafael's handling with a driven effort from range before Alex Samuel whistled an effort just wide from a similar position. But the Royals were in command as twice Adam was denied - first by a blocking centre-half, then by the fingertips of Allsop from range.
Puscas could have handed the visitors a lead when a one-two with Richards allowed the left-back to float a cross back to the Romanian from the byline. But Puscas couldn't get over his header enough to direct it on target.
He had a better opportunity just after the half hour when Pelé burst through the midfield and played an early ball in behind for an onside Puscas to run onto. The last man got back to take the sting out of his shot though and Allsop gathered it into his body, low to his right.
Gareth Ainsworth's men were growing into the half though and Samuel glanced a difficult headed opportunity harnlessly wide on the stroke of half-time. But the teams went into the dressing room all square.
Half-time: Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Reading
Suffering from a knock at the end of the first half, Boyé was replaced with Baldock at the break but it was Wycombe with the first sight of goal after the restart, Scott Kashket gaining a yard to pull the trigger and force Rafael into a parried save.
And just before the hour mark, the hosts had the lead. A deflected Tashket shot had skidded wide for a corner. And the inswinging set piece was met by the glancing head of Samuel who made it 1-0.
Reading responded immediately. John Swift came on for Adam and with his first touch he played a beautiful ball in behind the Wanderers' back line for Puscas to run onto. Allsop half saved his first stabbed shot, but with the ball looping wide of goal, the Romanian striker chased it down to toe it into the open net from close range.
Allsop needed to turn a Baldock header over his bar to be sure the Royals didn't take the lead soon after.
Ainsworth made a triple change as the stalemate continued and penalties began to loom large on the horizon, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Dave Wheeler and Fred Onyedinma coming onto the Adams Park pitch.
Swift and Richards combined well down the left to win a corner but Wanderers defended it well at the near post. Rafael at the other end calmly collected a skewed up and under cross from Jamie Mascoll.
Reading were pressing hard for a winner and Loader had an effort cleared off the line by Dominic Gape with four minutes remaining.
Four minutes of added time were signalled and after a flurry of corners, the last touch of the game saw Reading's crossbar rattle from a scrappy Akinfenwa effort in a crowded Reading penalty box.
Full-time: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Reading
The tie would be decided from the penalty spot and as discussions were had as to who would step forward, the 2,000-strong away contingent joined in with a deafening rendition of 'Sweet Caroline'.
And so it began...
Gape scores. Sends the keeper the wrong way. 1-0
Puscas scores. Low to Allsop's right. 1-1.
Freeman misses. Rafael leaps to his right to save. 1-1.
Baldock scores. Tucks it inside the right post. 1-2.
Pattison scores. It squirms under the keeper's body. 2-2.
Swift scores. Bottom right corner. 2-3.
Onyedinma misses. Rafael parries to his left. 2-3.
Loader...SCORES. Right corner again. 2-4.
The Royals were through by the skin of their teeth courtesy of Rafael heroics and four perfect spotkicks at Adams Park.
Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop, Gape (c), Stewart, Pattison, Kashket (Onyedinma 71), Mascoll, Phillips, Grimmer, Freeman, Samuel (Akinfenwa 71), Parker (Wheeler 71).
Unused subs: Yates. Jacobson, Mackail-Smith, Gardiner-Smith.
Goals: Samuel 59
Reading: Rafael, Morrison, Moore (c), McIntyre, Richards, Rinomhota, Ejaria (Loader 80), Adam (Swift 63), Pelé, Boyé (Baldock HT), Pușcaș.
Unused subs: Walker, Miazga, Olise, Barrett, Loader.
Goals: Puscas 64
Referee: Mr D England