Championship
Rotherham1Middlesbrough2

Rotherham 1-2 Middlesbrough: Boro miss out on play-off place despite victory

Jon Mikel Obi scores for Middlesbrough at Rotherham
Jon Mikel Obi's first goal for Middlesbrough put them 2-0 up before half-time

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis said finishing seventh was a "bigger achievement" than last season's run to the play-off semi-finals, after his side missed out on the top six despite winning at relegated Rotherham.

Derby County's win against West Brom saw Boro squeezed out of the Championship's play-off places by a point.

Britt Assombalonga's penalty and a fine strike by John Mikel Obi put Boro 2-0 up before a late Michael Smith penalty pulled a goal back for the Millers.

At one stage, Pulis' side looked set to steal the last play-off spot when Derby were pegged back to 1-1 by West Brom early in the second half, but ultimately their fate was out of their own hands.

"This has been a bigger achievement that last year really, if you're selling who we have done, with the players that we've got and the players that we've worked with," Pulis told BBC Tees.

"Overall, although I'm desperately disappointed we're not going to play Leeds over two games, I can't be too harsh on the players.

"We've played clubs this year that have spent £50m or £60m, and they're below us in the league, they're not even in contention for the play-offs."

Nottingham Forest and Pulis' former club Stoke City were among the clubs to have spent significantly on signings last summer, but finished ninth and 16th respectively.

Boro - who now face a third straight season in the Championship since their relegation in 2017 - were eliminated by Aston Villa in last season's play-off semi-finals.

Despite winning five of their last six games, what cost Boro their chances of promotion this term was a run of six straight defeats between March and April that saw them drop from fifth to eighth.

Rotherham's immediate return to League One was confirmed by defeat at West Brom last week, but they showed glimpses of why they will be contenders for promotion again next season.

Before Assombalonga's penalty broke the deadlock when he was fouled by Clark Robertson, Smith forced a smart save out of Boro keeper Darren Randolph.

Mikel's goal was just his second in English league football in his 267th appearance. It was his first in five years and 226 days since scoring for Chelsea against Fulham in September 2013.

Rotherham boss Paul Warne told BBC Radio Sheffield:

"I thought we were the better side in the first 20 minutes but didn't take our chance. The spirit from my lads has been amazing.

"After relegation last week they could have downed tools and given up but that wasn't the case, they've trained really well and wanted to finish on a high.

"Getting a goal back was nice and I don't think the lads had any more to give. For that I am immensely proud."

Line-ups

Rotherham

  • 12Price
  • 28Jones
  • 20Ihiekwe
  • 15Robertson
  • 3Mattock
  • 17CrooksSubstituted forPotterat 66'minutes
  • 5Ajayi
  • 25Wiles
  • 7FordeSubstituted forWilliamsat 45'minutes
  • 24Smith
  • 22NewellSubstituted forVassellat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Vyner
  • 6Wood
  • 8Palmer
  • 13Towell
  • 16Potter
  • 19Vassell
  • 23Williams

Middlesbrough

  • 23Randolph
  • 17McNair
  • 24Flint
  • 5Shotton
  • 16Howson
  • 26WingSubstituted forTavernierat 85'minutes
  • 2MikelBooked at 90mins
  • 37BesicSubstituted forClaytonat 82'minutes
  • 22Saville
  • 18FletcherSubstituted forDowningat 76'minutes
  • 9Assombalonga

Substitutes

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 8Clayton
  • 11Hugill
  • 19Downing
  • 28Tavernier
  • 39Gestede
  • 42Spence
Referee:
Andy Madley
Attendance:
11,051

Match Stats

Home TeamRotherhamAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home18
Away12
Shots on Target
Home4
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away5
Fouls
Home12
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, Rotherham United 1, Middlesbrough 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Rotherham United 1, Middlesbrough 2.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Williams (Rotherham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card.

Kyle Vassell (Rotherham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough).

Foul by Ryan Williams (Rotherham United).

Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam Clayton.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Michael Ihiekwe.

Offside, Rotherham United. Clark Robertson tries a through ball, but Michael Smith is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! Rotherham United 1, Middlesbrough 2. Michael Smith (Rotherham United) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Penalty Rotherham United. Kyle Vassell draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough) after a foul in the penalty area.

Kyle Vassell (Rotherham United) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the right side of the box. Assisted by Ben Wiles following a fast break.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Marcus Tavernier replaces Lewis Wing.

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Billy Jones.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Adam Clayton replaces Muhamed Besic.

Attempt saved. Kyle Vassell (Rotherham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt missed. Ryan Williams (Rotherham United) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Darren Potter.

Foul by Ben Wiles (Rotherham United).

Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Clark Robertson (Rotherham United).

Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Stewart Downing replaces Ashley Fletcher.

Substitution

Substitution, Rotherham United. Kyle Vassell replaces Joe Newell.

Corner, Rotherham United. Conceded by George Saville.

Offside, Rotherham United. Darren Potter tries a through ball, but Billy Jones is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United) header from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Michael Smith with a cross.

Attempt saved. Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Joe Newell with a cross.

Corner, Rotherham United. Conceded by George Saville.

Attempt missed. Darren Potter (Rotherham United) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Attempt blocked. Joe Newell (Rotherham United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Williams.

Attempt missed. Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Joe Mattock with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Rotherham United. Darren Potter replaces Matt Crooks.

Attempt missed. Muhamed Besic (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Matt Crooks (Rotherham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Muhamed Besic (Middlesbrough).

Corner, Rotherham United. Conceded by Lewis Wing.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Williams (Rotherham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich462713693573694
2Sheff Utd462611978413789
3Leeds462581373502383
4West Brom4623111287622580
5Aston Villa4620161082612176
6Derby4620141269541574
7Middlesbrough462013134941873
8Bristol City461913145953670
9Nottm Forest461715146154766
10Swansea461811176562365
11Brentford4617131673591464
12Sheff Wed461616146062-264
13Hull461711186668-262
14Preston461613176767061
15Blackburn461612186469-560
16Stoke461122134552-755
17Birmingham461419136458652
18Wigan461313205164-1352
19QPR46149235371-1851
20Reading461017194966-1747
21Millwall461014224864-1644
22Rotherham46816225283-3140
23Bolton4688302978-4932
24Ipswich46516253677-4131
View full Championship table

Top Stories