Pulis’ boys into play-offs

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By John Lyons

JONNY How­son took ad­van­tage of a howler from Mill­wall keeper Jor­dan Archer to se­cure vic­tory for Mid­dles­brough – and a place in the Cham­pi­onship play-offs.

Boro al­ready led through Britt As­som­ba­longa’s first half goal when Archer al­lowed Ste­wart Down­ing’s cross to slip from his grasp, en­abling How­son to tap home from close range. Boro boss Tony Pulis said:

“We’re de­lighted that we’re now in the play-offs.”

The de­feat vir­tu­ally ended Mill­wall’s chances of reach­ing the play-offs.

Cardiff won 2-0 at Hull with two goals from skip­per Sean Mor­ri­son to go back above Ful­ham into sec­ond place. It means they will be pro­moted if they beat Read­ing at home next week­end.

In League Two, Wy­combe Wan­der­ers clinched pro­mo­tion with a 2-1 vic­tory at Ch­ester­field, Do­minic Gape net­ting the win­ner.

Bar­net won 1-0 at More­cambe to keep their chances of stay­ing up alive go­ing into the fi­nal game.

ASTALEMATE with Sh­effield Wed­nes­day could not dampen the ti­tle cel­e­bra­tions for Wolves as Nuno Esper­ito Santo hailed a spe­cial day for the club af­ter re­ceiv­ing the Cham­pi­onship tro­phy.

No side could break the dead­lock at Mo­lineux as Wolves missed the chance to get to 100 points af­ter fail­ing to take chances against a stub­born Owls de­fence.

And Wolves boss Santo chal­lenged his side to end their cam­paign with vic­tory against Sun­der­land next week­end on their as­cent to the Premier League.

“It’s a spe­cial day to­day, a fan­tas­tic day.” he said. “When you get some­thing that you can hold onto, that’s when you feel you are a cham­pion.

“Ev­ery­body feels to­day that we are cham­pi­ons, and it is well de­served.

“This sea­son de­serves to end bet­ter than to­day. It de­serves to end with a win.

“We must feel the taste of win­ning be­cause this is what we’ve been do­ing all sea­son and teams per­form bet­ter when they are in win­ning mo­men­tums, so let’s pro­ceed and try to en­gage this mo­men­tum to the next sea­son.”

Diogo Jota got behind the Owls de­fence and a vi­tal eighth-minute Daniel Pudil chal­lenge warded off a lurk­ing Helder Costa.

At the other end, Fer­nando Forestieri’s at­tempted bi­cy­cle kick bounced harm­lessly into John Ruddy’s arms.

Ro­main Saiss let fly on 20 min­utes which fizzed wide as Wolves strug­gled to break down Wed­nes­day on the counter.

Joey Pelu­pessy’s short 33rd­minute back­pass was in­ter­cepted by Wolves marks­man Benik Afobe who rounded Cameron Daw­son but fired across goal from a tight an­gle.

Jota drove at the Wed­nes­day rear­guard mo­ments later and the Atletico Madrid loa­nee’s pow­er­ful ef­fort was dealt with by Daw­son.

The Owls stop­per showed sharp re­ac­tions when Barry Dou­glas’ 42nd-minute cor­ner evaded all but Saiss at the back post and Daw­son par­ried the header wide. Jota nearly handed Wolves the opener af­ter the restart but Daw­son di­verted off tar­get, the stop­per get­ting a fin­ger­tip to the for­ward’s low ef­fort later on as skip­per Danny Batth also nod­ded wide dur­ing a flurry of chances.

Jota slipped in Costa af­ter the hour who was stopped by Jor­dan Thorni­ley’s well timed tackle.

Saiss’ ef­fort was charged down by Thorni­ley and de­flected over with 15 min­utes left, while Bright Enobakhare should have tested Wild­smith when put through one-on-one by Leo Bona­tini.

Bona­tini was de­nied by the on­rush­ing Daw­son af­ter nearly latch­ing onto Saiss’ pass with five min­utes re­main­ing, but the dead­lock re­mained.

Owls boss Jos Luhukay hopes his side can take their re­cent form of five wins and a draw over their last eight games into next sea­son as he paid trib­ute to the cham­pi­ons.

“There’s pro­gres­sion, there’s some grow­ing in the team and how we had the sta­bil­ity back and the bal­ance,” he said.

“We need pro­gres­sion and the way we play, so I’m very happy with the last two-and-a-half months that we have the pro­gres­sion and it’s also of course for the next sea­son.

“You play the best team in the league, so when you have a draw here, it’s for us a very good re­sult.”

PIC­TURE: MI News & Sport

ALL OVER: Jonny How­son cel­e­brates scor­ing Boro’s sec­ond against Mill­wall

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

CUP OF CHEER: The Wolves play­ers cel­e­brate with the tro­phy and some cham­pagne af­ter their first home game since win­ning the Cham­pi­onship

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