Newcastle United secured North East bragging rights with a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough in a low key Tyne-Tees derby.
The two teams have been most disappointing in The Premiership, although Boro are still fighting on two fronts in the FA and Uefa Cups, but Newcastle were able to salvage a little pride from the season with success at The Riverside.
An own goal from George Boateng set The Magpies on their way to three points and Shola Ameobi's goal just before the interval knocked the stuffing out of Boro.
Boro took some time to emerge from their slumber, but Boateng set up a grandstand finish with a goal 12 minutes from time and The Magpies were made to work hard to claim the points.
With Boro's thoughts certainly on the two cup competitions they remain in and Newcastle having little to play for other than pride, the North East derby started in a subdued manner.
A James Morrison cross was bundled away by Stephen Carr, while Ameobi dragged a decent chance wide for Newcastle.
The first real opening of the match fell to Ameobi on the quarter hour, but he proved exactly why a section of Newcastle fans are not convinced by the lanky striker, as he fired high into the stands after being played in superbly by Nolberto Solano.
Yakubu was asked to plough a lone furrow in attack and he tried to dash in behind the Newcastle defence on 21 minutes, but headed weakly at Shay Given, albeit under pressure from the retreating Robbie Elliott.
Emre attempted to liven up the tepid encounter with a wild lunge on Boateng which led to a melee and a booking for the Turkish schemer.
The tackle appeared to act as a catalyst for Newcastle, as Ugo Ehiogu was forced into a scrambling tackle to deny Lee Bowyer and from the resulting corner, the visitors took the lead.
Ameobi climbed high to meet Solano's corner and he headed the ball towards the far corner. Bowyer and Titus Bramble moved in to turn the ball goalwards, but Boateng got there first and unfortunately smuggled the ball over his own line.
Boro's response was a wild shot over the bar from Franck Queudrue and it could have got worse for the Teessiders, but Alan Wiley waved away Newcastle appeals for a penalty after Ameobi appeared to have been felled by Chris Riggott.
Shay Given made his first contribution of the match on 42 minutes, saving a Fabio Rochemback free kick, and The Magpies doubled their lead just before the break as Ameobi angled a drive into the corner of Mark Schwarzer's net after the ball had fallen invitingly into his path following a positive run from Carr.
Boro chief Steve McClaren threw on Mark Viduka at the interval in a bid to add some pep to his attack, but he had little immediate impact and it was Newcastle who came closest to scoring again when a Solano free kick was deflected inches wide.
Emre was the next player to try his luck from a set piece, just after Bowyer's goal-bound drive had been blocked, and he came within a whisker of adding a third.
Boro looked incapable of fashioning a chance of their own, so Emre attempted to give them a helping hand by presenting the ball straight to Yakubu 30 yards from goal. Craig Moore hauled the Nigerian down on the edge of the box but Rochemback, not for the first time, wasted the free kick.
Viduka attempted to haul the home side back into the contest and it took four Newcastle defenders to thwart him six yards from goal.
His burrowing run sparked Boro and the crowd into life and they grabbed a lifeline 12 minutes from time when Boateng lashed home from the edge of the box, but the goal owed much to a neat lay-off from Viduka and a deflection off Bramble.
Rochemback's radar had been off target for much of the contest, but he forced Given into a fine diving save as Newcastle were forced to battle to claim a win they looked like cruising to for much of the contest.
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Middlesbrough v Newcastle
|Middlesbrough||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||9|