Chris Wilder is delighted that Middlesbrough will be heading into their penultimate game of the season at the weekend with their promotion hopes still very much alive in the wake of their 2-0 win over Cardiff.
Goals from Marcus Tavernier and Riley McGree lifted Boro above Millwall and Blackburn into seventh in the Sky Bet Championship table, two points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield United.
The Blades are in action on Friday night, when they travel to Loftus Road to take on QPR, and while Wilder insists he will not be watching his former side’s showdown in west London, he will be well aware that a Sheffield United defeat would mean Boro could claim a place in the top six when they host Stoke in their final home game on Saturday.
Even if Sheffield United were to win at QPR, Boro would still be heading into the Stoke game with a realistic chance of making the play-offs, and Wilder is pleased his players ended a five-game winless run to ensure their season is not yet over.
Wilder said: “It’s job done. We understood the job we needed to get done and we did that. The first goal was a big one, it settled us down and was a big moment we needed as we talked about. We found it and then we tried to play.
“I don’t think it was a real flowing performance, but it was a 2-0 win.
“We just have to rest and recover now ahead of the weekend. Stoke have had a free week and have some very good players, but we take it deep.
“We take it to the 45th game of the season, and I think that’s all we can ask of the boys.”
With Boro having picked up just two points from their previous five matches, there was an unstable edginess both on and off the pitch in the opening half-hour.
Tavernier’s opening goal, which came courtesy of an excellent low finish from just outside the box, settled the Teessiders down, and they went on to dominate the rest of the game.
Wilder said: “It’s been disappointing lately. We all want to deliver that free-flowing football that we have usually delivered here at the Riverside, but I think everyone recognises tonight was just about getting the result, getting the big win, which we obviously did.”
Cardiff boss Steve Morison felt his side created enough chances to have taken something from the game, but bemoaned his side’s lack of a cutting edge, which has been their Achilles heel all season.
Morison said: “We just weren’t good enough in the final third. I thought we were really good in the first two thirds of the pitch, but we just didn’t have enough in the final third.
“They didn’t have to work hard for their goals – we gave the ball away and they punished us. They had one shot in the first half of note and scored it – we had two or three and we don’t score.
“It’s frustrating. When we have our moments, we don’t take them. It seems like the same old story.
“There’s only so many times I can keep saying. We keep working, keep creating the chances and keep getting into the areas, but people have to take them. It’s a work in progress.
“It hurts. I get out of bed every day to win games of football and hate it when things like this happen. The question I’ve asked them in there is, does it hurt them enough to lose?”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.