Boro end with another defeat
Sat 4th Apr 12.45pm
Middlesbrough's disappointing season drew to a close as Sheffield Wednesday ensured their Championship survival with a routine 2-0 victory at Hillsborough.
Both goals arrived in the opening half with on loan Hartlepool United striker Steve Howard earning them an important ninth-minute lead. Former Boro striker Leroy Lita then headed a second just past the half-hour to further ease the tension.
The visitors had earlier handed a debut to central defender Christian Burgess while fellow youngsters Bryn Morris and Ben Gibson both made their bench.
Wednesday needed a victory to definitely preserve their current status and began in determined fashion. Jermaine Johnson was wide of the mark and Seyi Olofinjana volleyed over before David Prutton allowed Howard to find the roof of the net with a crashing finish.
Boro weren't showing a great deal in reply and it was goalscorer Howard seeing another effort deflected behind while Johnson's shot caused more anxiety for goalkeeper Jason Steele. Curtis Main missed with a couple of attempts at the other end.
But it was the hosts adding their second of the afternoon when Lita touched in a 31st minute corner from Lewis Buxton. Another nearly soon followed with debutant Burgess blocking well from Olofinjana before Howard's low eight-yard drive was cleared off the line by Rhys Williams.
Midfielder Grant Leadbitter with a 20-yard effort at least forced a save from Chris Kirkland upon the restart, while opposite number Steele denied Lita when Burgess dropped an attempted back-pass short.
The visitors went close around the hour-mark as Burgess headed over from their first corner of the game delivered by Leadbitter. Skipper Williams then had unsuccessful claims for a penalty.
There was later a clash of heads involving Lita and Boro substitute Gibson, whose introduction from the bench had already preceded that of both Adam Reach and Morris.
Relieved Wednesday fans went on to invade the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate their survival and avoid an instant return to League One.
Boro meanwhile were left reflecting on a hugely disappointing sixteenth-place finish and a final points tally just one more than their latest opponents and only five clear of the dreaded drop-zone.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Pugh, Llera, J. Johnson (Lee 46), Helan, Olofinjana (Semedo 56), Prutton, Lita (Maguire 85), Howard
subs (unused): Bywater, R. Johnson, Taylor, Madine
Goals: Howard (9), Lita (31)
Middlesbrough: Steele, Burgess, Bikey, R. Williams, Hoyte, Leadbitter, Smallwood (Gibson 55), Halliday (Reach 66), Carayol (Morris 66), Main, McDonald
subs (unused): Leutwiler, Haroun, Ledesma, L. Williams