Northern Echo

So much for the season fizzling out then. Middlesbrough might not have had anything to play for, but on a rip-roaring night in Rotherham, they managed to serve up arguably their most entertaining game of the season.

Three goals, three efforts against the crossbar, a disallowed finish, a controversial red card and two homegrown youngsters coming on for their debuts. Who needs the Super League when you can rely on the Championship for a night like this?

From Middlesbrough’s perspective, it was a shame there was nothing riding on the outcome, although Rotherham’s defeat has damaged their hopes of remaining in the Championship and offered a helping hand to both Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday, their rivals at the foot of the table.

The Millers felt aggrieved by the first-half dismissal of Matt Crooks following what appeared to be a clash of heads with Grant Hall, and playing against ten men for more than 70 minutes undoubtedly made Boro’s task significantly easier.

Even so, the Teessiders deserve credit for the way in which they shrugged off the concession of a third-minute opener to take complete control of the game, with goals from George Saville and Chuba Akpom ultimately securing their victory.

Teesside Live

At this stage of the season, with little to play for and on the back of some tepid recent displays, you might have been expecting a rather underwhelming and uneventful evening in South Yorkshire.

If so, you were very wrong.

There was a nightmare start, a disallowed goal, a controversial red card, an Academy graduate making an extremely impressive debut and a come from behind victory, Boro's first win in six attempts.

Highlights from the New York Stadium...

Yorkshire Post

After being on the receiving end of some hard calls, here was a big one in favour of Warnock, whose side used their extra man to full use and controlled the rest of the game to claim a relieving first win in six games through goals from George Saville and Chuba Akpom.

Akpom’s winner 10 minutes into the second half – with his first goal since January 2 – owed a bit to a rare mistake from Viktor Johansson, who had been fortunate earlier when Duncan Watmore nipped in to score in the sixth minute, only for Bond to deem that the keeper had full control of the ball on the ground. It looked a charitable call. 

Beforehand, the feeling was inescapable that Rotherham had to win to provide their survival quest with a momentum charge.

Should the Millers somehow stay up, it would probably surpass their ‘Great Escape’ under Warnock in 2015/16.

Inspection of Boro’s matchday squad – with 10 first-teamers not featuring for different reasons and five teenagers with no league appearances for the club named on a six-strong bench – should have given them a pre-match lift and the game started in perfectly.

Debut man Connor Malley was named Sky Sports MOTM

Sky Sports

Rotherham's relegation concerns deepened after Chuba Akpom ended a 17-game goal drought by securing a 2-1 Sky Bet Championship win for Middlesbrough.

Angus MacDonald had earlier headed the hosts in front but their chances of victory were dealt a significant blow when midfielder Matt Crooks was sent off after 19 minutes.

An equaliser from George Saville then sent the sides in level at the break before former Arsenal forward Akpom struck early in the second half to leave the Millers four points from safety with two games in hand on 21st-placed Derby.

The Boro manager also confirmed after the game that strike duo Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher would no longer be playing a part in Boro's season...

Northern Echo

The attacking duo were due to become free agents in June, but their departure has been brought forward after Warnock decided there was no point retaining them in his squad for the remaining three games of the season.

Fletcher turned down Boro’s offer of a new deal on reduced terms, while Assombalonga, who remains the club’s record signing, was not offered a new contract, and Warnock suspects the pair have already agreed terms elsewhere.

“We’ve told them that they won’t be involved again now,” said the Boro boss. “They won’t play and they won’t train with us. I just felt it was the right time. It’s difficult for players as well – it’s not their fault altogether.

“I thought it was time after I brought on Britt on at the weekend. When you’re looking at next season and you know you’re not going to be here, both of them have probably got another club now, so I’m told. I didn’t think there was any point carrying on. We’ve agreed to let them both go – it’s only two more weeks.”


First Team