Boro’s Under-23s were beaten by Crystal Palace in the last match of their regular season on Friday.
It’s a second defeat to The Eagles in the space of five days for Graeme Lee’s youngsters, who must now wait on results elsewhere in their hopes to reach the PL2 Division Two play-offs.
Of the young players to make Neil Warnock’s senior squad in recent weeks, only William Kokolo featured, while Calum Kavanagh and George Gitau also started having played in Wednesday’s Under-17 Premier League Cup final loss to Brighton.
The standout chance of the opening stages fell Boro’s way, following good link up between Kavanagh and Rumarn Burrell. Kavanagh squared to his strike partner but Burrell could only steer his side-footed effort wide of the mark.
It was a game of few chances, and Palace then took theirs. Boro captain Zach Hemming made a good save down to his right to palm away Rob Street’s header, but Eagles teammate Sion Spence was on hand to finish high into the net.
Spence had a glimmer of an opportunity add to his tally soon after when the ball dropped his way behind the Boro defence, but the Palace man’s touch deserted him at the crucial moment.
For the Teessiders, Burrell was again the target for a searching ball from Cain Sykes over the top, but the forward couldn’t generate the power on his header to carry it past Ollie Webber in the Palace goal.
The rain set in as the second half began, and the match became increasingly bitty - and that suited the visitors far more than Boro’s efforts to create an equaliser.
Eagles forward Street hooked a shot over from a Palace free-kick, but could well have made it two.
For Boro, Isaac Fletcher sent a volleyed effort wide, Kokolo cross saw a cross tipped over by Palace stopper Ollie Webber, and a Gitau cross from the opposite flank was headed off target by trialist Jeremy Sivi.
Another Boro trialist, Abdi Sharif, twice delivered dangerous free-kicks into the Palace area, but the visitors dealt with both well.
For all of Boro’s efforts, though, it was Palace who had the best opportunity of the second period as Street bundled his way through and unleashed a vicious shot which Hemming did very well to push behind.
In the closing minutes, Kavanagh made space for himself with a nutmeg before sending a shot from range whistling over Webber’s crossbar.
The result books Palace’s place in the PL2 play-offs, while Boro - leapfrogged by the Eagles as a result of this and Monday’s late defeat - must hope north east neighbours Sunderland fail to beat second-place Stoke City on Monday.