|match review copied from www.4thegame.co.nz|
Middlesbrough rounded off a troubled season in style with just their fourth home Premiership win against West Ham.
With safety assured almost a fortnight ago, there was little more than pride at stake for either team, but the Teessiders at least managed to send their fans home for the final time with a smile on their faces.
| Middlesbrough (2) 2
||West Ham United (1) 1
|Desire Job 21
|Prem, Kick-off: 15:00
|| Att: 33057
The victory came courtesy of first-half goals from the impressive Joseph-Desire Job and Christian Karembeu - his second in as many games, although Bulgarian Svetoslav Todorov had dragged the visitors back into it with a 31st-minute equaliser.
But Boro could have won more comfortably as a series of second-half chances went begging, although there were few complaints after a season of under-achievement.
West Ham went into the game without a manager while their hosts began not knowing whether Terry Venables' reign at the Riverside Stadium would end with the final whistle.
The Teessiders made two changes to the side which effectively clinched Premiership safety last time out with a 1-1 draw at Bradford as injured duo Alen Boksic and Hamilton Ricard made way for Argentinian teenager Carlos Marinelli and Cameroon international Job.
The Hammers kept faith with the bulk of the side which defeated Southampton 3-0 a fortnight ago, although Sebastian Schemmel - reportedly a Boro target - and Scott Minto replaced the injured Igor Stimac and Paolo di Canio.
With little tangible at stake on the pitch, the first-half unfolded in ambling style as both sides struggled to muster any sense of urgency.
But as Frederic Kanoute and Todorov finally got the bit between their teeth, things started to happen.
Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer had already had to block an early effort from Minto when Christian Dailly charged into the box and was only denied a shot at goal by Steve Vickers' block.
However, it was the former Tranmere defender who had his side's best early chance when he rose unopposed to get his head to Marinelli's 20th-minute free-kick but sent his effort way off target.
The opening goal arrived just seconds later when Job collected Paul Ince's pass and rounded Shaka Hislop, Stuart Pearce only succeeding in smashing the ball into his own net off the post as he tried to clear.
But the Hammers only had to wait 10 minutes for their reply, and they did it in style when Joe Cole took Kanoute's pass in his stride before squaring to leave Todorov with the simplest of tasks.
The Bulgarian wasted a 36th-minute chance to put the visitors in front when he screwed a shot wide instead of playing in Kanoute, and that proved costly at the death when Karembeu took advantage of some slack defending to run on to a header from substitute Brian Deane - on for the injured Marinelli - and smash a low shot past Hislop.
West Ham started the second half the brighter as Cole started to express himself in the middle of the field.
Kanoute just failed to find Todorov with a driven cross and the Bulgarian sent a dipping volley wide after Schemmel had headed down Hayden Foxe's long ball.
But as the half wore on, it was Boro who started to exert the pressure, Job driving just wide and Deane missing the target by inches with a 60th-minute header.
Skipper Ince saw a well-struck shot deflected over the bar by Fox and was then denied by a superb save from Shaka Hislop after Job and Deane has set him up.
Job got in on the act himself 17 minutes from time when he volleyed Jason Gavin's deep cross first time towards goal, but again Hislop was in the right place at the right time.
The home crowd responded with a chant of "there's only one Job on Teesside", although whether it was directed at the striker or the head coach was unclear.
Job was unfortunate to see a glancing header drop just wide 12 minutes from time as Boro looked to press home their advantage, but they got a wake-up call eight minutes from time when Cole blazed a 20-yard effort over Schwarzer's bar.
Referee: P Durkin ().
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Gavin, Ehiogu, Vickers, Cooper, Karembeu (Hudson, 89), Okon, Ince, Marinelli (Deane, 38), Job, Windass.
Subs not used: Crossley, Stockdale, Summerbell.
West Ham: Hislop, Pearce, Foxe, Schemmel, Minto (McCann, 89), Song, Cole, Carrick, Dailly, Kanoute, Todorov (Defoe, 68).
Subs not used: Bywater, Soma, Byrne.