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Vicarage Road Stadium (ATT 14,022) 28th April 2012 - Kick off 12:30 Ref: S Hooper

Watford Watford vs Middlesbrough M'boro

Watford 2

C Iwelumo (69)
T Deeney (88)

ft

M'boro 1

M Emnes (85)

Boro's play-off hopes dashed

Last Updated: 28/04/12 2:59pm

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Hogg: Watford deny Boro

Hogg: Watford deny Boro

Middlesbrough failed to make the Championship play-offs as they finished the season with a 2-1 defeat at Watford on Saturday.

Tony Mowbray's side needed to beat the Hornets and hope sixth-placed Cardiff lost to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in order to finish in the top six.

Initially, Boro had hope of leapfrogging Cardiff when Wilfried Zaha put Palace ahead, but they themselves could never get in front against Watford and instead heard news of Cardiff coming from behind to claim a 2-1 victory.

Chris Iwelumo's first strike at Vicarage Road and Troy Deeney's 12th goal of the campaign helped Watford, tipped by many to be relegation candidates, end an encouraging first season under manager Sean Dyche in 11th place.

Top-scorer Marvin Emnes had looked to have sealed a point for Boro, who finished the season five points behind the Bluebirds in seventh position.

Boro showed signs of nerves early on as a short backpass almost provided Iwelumo with a clear sight on goal while, at the other end, Nicky Bailey and Faris Haroun fired wide from distance.

As news of a Palace opener at Selhurst Park filtered through the away end, Boro were inspired and started to create opportunities.

Goalkeeper Scott Loach, replacing Tomasz Kuszczak in the only Hornets change, was called into action twice in the first 16 minutes to deny Joe Bennett and Emnes.

Former England Under-21 international Loach was determined to take his chance, pushing a 12-yard Barry Robson effort round the post on the half hour mark.

Watford were limited to long-range chances, with Jonathan Hogg and Carl Dickinson failing to hit the target.

Loach continued to frustrate the visitors with an excellent save to prevent Haroun from converting Justin Hoyte's cross from six yards.

But the hosts looked dangerous on the break and nearly punished Boro for their wastefulness in front of goal, Iwelumo almost bundling in the opener from close range.

After the interval, Boro pressed for that all-important opening goal, with a last-ditch Dickinson clearance denying Lukas Jutkiewicz .

Cardiff's comeback from a goal down seemed to flatten Boro, with Iwelumo testing Jason Steele from 20 yards.

Iwelumo went one better 21 minutes from time when the former Burnley striker flicked home a Deeney cross to give Watford the lead.

Robson tried to draw Boro level but once again found Loach in inspired form, while Iwelumo shot over in an attempt to double his tally.

Deeney shot wide for the home side before Boro levelled, Emnes, with his 18th goal of the season, finding the top corner from 12 yards.

But three minutes later, Deeney converted Craig Forsyth's cross to seal Watford's triumph.

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Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Derby County 18 35
2 Bournemouth 18 32
3 Middlesbrough 18 32
4 Ipswich Town 18 31
5 Brentford 18 31
6 Blackburn Rovers 18 30
7 Watford 18 29
8 Nottingham Forest 18 28
9 Charlton Athletic 18 28
10 Norwich City 18 27
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 27
12 Cardiff City 18 26
13 Sheffield Wednesday 18 22
14 Huddersfield Town 18 21
15 Reading 18 21
16 Leeds United 18 20
17 Fulham 18 19
18 Millwall 18 19
19 Birmingham City 18 19
20 Brighton and Hove Albion 18 18
21 Bolton Wanderers 18 18
22 Rotherham United 18 18
23 Wigan Athletic 18 17
24 Blackpool 18 8