Perfect 10 at Molineux.
FOOTBALL has a habit of throwing up dramatic final day stories and 10-man Boro wrote the perfect script as Bernie Slaven and Paul Wilkinson goals capped an epic promotion-sealing win in the Black Country.
An early morning fire at Molineux and a bomb hoax had put the match in jeopardy but it went ahead despite the late arrival of several hundred Boro fans.
The in-form Teessiders were cheek by jowl with Derby and Leicester to go up as all three were in contention and jostling for the runner-up spot.
Mid-table Wolves had only pride to play for, but the need for a Boro win was hammered home at the end of a goalless first half as Derby led 2-0 at Swindon.
Boro were denied a penalty when referee Philip Don deemed a bad challenge on Wilkinson was outside the area, with heavy metal fan Jimmy Phillips thrashing the 20-yard free kick over.
Boro's automatic promotion chances were already seeming unlikely in an even game, and they were hit hard when Nicky Mohan was sent off on 65 minutes.
Jamie Pollock caught Steve Bull as he was going for a shot and players from both sides squared up.
When order was restored, Mohan received his second yellow card and his marching orders, and things got worse as Wolves went ahead within a minute.
Paul Cook crossed from the left and Boro's disorganised defence was all at sea as Andy Mutch stooped to send in a far post header, leaving Boro's promotion mission looking impossible.
But Boro amazingly threw themselves a lifeline when Slaven - a virtual outcast at the start of the season - equalised from six yards after keeper Mike Stowell could only parry Jon Gittens' header.
And an improbable victory - and with it promotion - was confirmed 13 minutes from time when top scorer Wilkinson scored his 24th of the campaign with a header from Pollock's cross.
Stowell parried the ball onto the post but it rebounded and hit him before bouncing into the net, triggering manic celebrations at the final whistle.
BORO: Ironside, Fleming, Phillips, Gittens, Mohan, Pollock, Slaven (Payton 74), Falconer, Wilkinson, Hendrie, Ripley (Peake 83).
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|Publication:||Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)|
|Date:||Jul 6, 2009|
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