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Middlesbrough 3 Brentford 0 (Middlesbrough win 5-1 on aggregate)

15 May 2015

Bees stay in Championship as Middlesbrough progress to Play-Off Final

Brentford’s season came to a close in the North East as they lost their Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final to Middlesbrough.
The Bees came in to the second leg with a 2-1 deficit and were a further goal behind midway through the first half.
They responded well to that Lee Tomlin goal but were unable to pull the game back and Kike made it safe in the second half.
Albert Adomah put a gloss on the score line as Brentford chased the game late on. Middlesbrough won the match 3-0, the tie 5-1 and will play in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final next Monday, May 25.
There could be no question of Brentford’s effort and application and they played a lot of good football.
But Middlesbrough just had a little bit more.
They found a way to make the crucial block, the midfield interception and the headed clearance.
The hosts only had one real chance in the first 45 minutes but it was enough to give them a lead Brentford could not claw back.
Tomlin scored it, placing a shot in to the top corner from 20 yards after a fine run from Adomah.
Tomlin and Adomah, on the flanks for the hosts, tested Brentford but, apart from that fine effort, no chances resulted.
No Play-Off game could ever be described as quiet but there were few chances in the first half hour of this one.
Brentford dominated possession but Middlesbrough had the best defence in the Championship in the regular season and the well-drilled back line prevented the visitors making headway.
Much of Brentford’s possession was in areas that would not threaten Middlesbrough and when they were able to pass through the midfield they found another bank of four to stop them.
Jota did have sight of goal before Tomlin’s strike but Dimitrios Konstantopoulos saved.
Alan Judge shot wide soon after the goal and Brentford started to take control in the last ten minutes of the first half.
James Tarkowski nodded wide and there was a good chance soon after when Judge delivered a cross, Andre Gray was unable to get a head on it and the ball cannoned in to Jonathan Douglas eight yards out before rolling in to the arms of Konstantopoulos.
Grant Leadbitter missed the target with an ambitious long range free kick just before the whistle but the hosts had a two-goal lead in the tie with just 45 minutes remaining.
That was nearly halved seconds after the break when Moses Odubajo drilled a ball across the six-yard box that just eluded the sliding Gray.
Jota had a shot saved soon after but ten minutes in to the second half the tie was effectively put to bed.
Tomlin was involved again, finding space in midfield and sending Jelle Vossen in behind, Jake Bidwell made a recovery table but Kike arrived to pick up the loose ball and hammer it home.
Tomlin had a shot blocked and an Adomah effort was saved as Brentford rung the changes, seeking a way back in to the tie.
Jon Toral, Stuart Dallas and Chris Long were introduced as The Bees threw caution to the wind.
Long could have reduced the deficit when Alex Pritchard and Gray combined to release Douglas, when the ball came to the striker, he fired wide on the stretch.
But with Brentford having so many attacking players on the pitch, Middlesbrough were able to counter-attack at will and showed their quality.
Tomlin raced clear and should have made it three but he dithered and Tarkowski made a recovery tackle, the ball was recycled but Vossen fired over.
The home side did put daylight between themselves and The Bees moments later.
An Adam Clayton pass set Tomlin away and while neither he nor Vossen could finish it, Adomah arrived to blast it in to the top of the net.
Tomlin shot wide and Gray was just unable to turn home a Dallas cross at the other end but the tie was just about over.
Adomah blasted wide for the hosts, Pritchard had a shot saved and a Dallas effort was blocked.
Brentford pressed until the end but Middlesbrough had them at arms’ length and will now play for a place in the Premier League.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Whitehead, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Adomah, Clayton, Leadbitter (sub Woodgate 90 mins), Tomlin (sub Forshaw 82 mins); Vossen, Kike (sub Reach 67 mins)
Subs (not used): Ripley, Nsue, Amorebieta, Bamford
Bookings: Clayton (35 mins), Whitehead (39 mins), Kike (56 mins)
Brentford: Button; Odubajo, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell (sub Dallas 60 mins); Douglas, Diagouraga (sub Long 71 mins); Jota (sub Toral 60 mins), Pritchard, Judge; Gray
Subs (not used): Bonham, Craig, McCormack, Smith
Bookings: Dean (84 mins) (seventh of season)
Attendance: 33,266 (1,522 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham

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