Rotherham 1-2 Middlesbrough: Away win not enough to clinch play-off spot
Derby's 3-1 win over West Brom means another season in the second tier for Boro
Last Updated: 05/05/19 4:09pm
Middlesbrough claimed a 2-1 win at Rotherham but it was not enough for them to snatch the final Sky Bet Championship play-off spot.
First-half goals from Britt Assombalonga and John Obi Mikel put the visitors in a commanding position before Rotherham pulled one back through Michael Smith late on.
Boro held on for the victory but Derby's win over West Brom meant Tony Pulis' men finished outside of the top six, a point behind the Rams.
It was already-relegated Rotherham who did the early pressing with Smith forcing Darren Randolph into a neat stop with a shot across goal.
Boro's first chance was a good one as Assombalonga snuck through on goal but slipped his effort wide when one-on-one with Lewis Price.
Smith was then guilty of missing a glaring chance at the other end as he spooned over after Matt Crooks had opened up Boro's defence down the left and squared back for the striker.
The away side were quick to make them pay when Assombalonga won and scored a 28th-minute penalty after being pulled down in the box by Clark Robertson.
The striker should have made it 2-0 moments later as he fired wide after beating the offside trap.
Middlesbrough did not have to wait too much longer to double their lead, though, with Mikel netting in the 37th minute.
The ball fell to the Boro skipper from a corner and he viciously lashed it into the roof of the net through a crowd of bodies.
Rotherham continued to have a go and it took a brave block from George Saville to deny Joe Newell from inside the box following a good move.
Millers substitute Kyle Vassell was the next to come close as he burst down the left and his poked shot was kicked away by Randolph.
Vassell came even closer moments later as he muscled his way through before unleashing a fierce strike which rattled the woodwork.
And it was Vassell in the thick of it again in the 86th minute, winning Rotherham a penalty after he was tripped by Mikel when he was about to pull the trigger.
Smith stepped up and finally beat Randolph from the spot with a cool finish, but Rotherham were unable to find an equaliser at the end of a match which saw both sides suffer disappointment.
Paul Warne: "It was a microcosm of the season. We were excellent from box to box but not good enough in both boxes to win the game. Take the game away from it, I thought my team were excellent.
"The lads gave everything they could to keep the integrity of the league going. We knew at the start of the season when the fixtures came out that the last eight or 10 games didn't exactly look kind.
"I was glad we got a goal for our fans to have something to cheer about. For us to compete as well as we have gives me real pride.
"There will be three very good teams stay behind after the play-offs in League One.
"Then there is going to be us, Bolton and Ipswich. It's going to be a really tough season and hopefully with a good wind and the odd refereeing decision going our way here and there we might be where we want to be."
Tony Pulis: "I thought we played really well first half and once again it's another half where once again we should have come in with a few more goals.
"Second half was a rollercoaster because of the crowd. We've won five out of the last six games. We had a poor performance at Forest but the rest of the time they've really dug in and taken it to the last couple of minutes.
"The players have got to take a lot of pride. They've really, really worked hard and as I say, to win five of the last six games is great credit to them.
"We were hoping and praying to come out of this ground in the play-offs. That has been the overriding thing.
"Steve (Gibson, the owner) has paid me to get a grip on the football club and I have tried to do that in a way that helps this club.
"The job's the job. I have been managing for 30-odd years. It's not the first job I have been at where I have had to balance the books. I was doing that at Bournemouth in 93-94."