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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 Bournemouth 28 54
2 Derby County 28 54
3 Middlesbrough 28 53
4 Ipswich Town 28 51
5 Brentford 28 49
6 Watford 28 47
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28 45
8 Norwich City 28 44
9 Blackburn Rovers 28 39
10 Sheffield Wednesday 28 38
11 Birmingham City 28 37
12 Nottingham Forest 28 34
13 Cardiff City 28 34
14 Bolton Wanderers 28 34
15 Fulham 28 34
16 Reading 28 34
17 Huddersfield Town 28 34
18 Charlton Athletic 28 33
19 Leeds United 28 32
20 Rotherham United 28 30
21 Brighton and Hove Albion 28 29
22 Millwall 28 27
23 Wigan Athletic 28 22
24 Blackpool 28 20