Final Score: Middlesbrough 3 Barnsley 1
TWO stoppage time goals from Danny Graham and Lee Tomlin ensured Middlesbrough rounded off their season at the Riverside with a 3-1 win over Barnsley, who are relegated to League One.
The Tykes had taken a second half lead through Jean-Yves M’voto, but a brace from Tomlin and a goal from Graham ensured Boro ended their home account with a win.
Karanka made four changes to his line-up with Jonathan Woodgate, Jacob Butterfield, Lee Tomlin and Adam Reach all coming into the side.
Reach, who has spent time on loan at Bradford this season, returned to make his first league start under Karanka and he looked lively on the left.
A superb first touch presented the midfielder with his first opportunity on goal inside ten minutes but he couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Reach then supplied Danny Graham with a wonderful ball into the box, but the striker couldn’t do enough to get on the end of it, before he fired another chance wide after good work from Lee Tomlin.
Despite needing to win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation, Danny Wilson’s side barely got into advanced positions with their only real chance of the first half coming when Marcus Pedersen’s deflected shot almost caught out Dimi Konstantopoulos in the 12th minute.
Other than that, the Tykes rarely looked like causing Boro problems and it was their keeper, Luke Steele, who was the busier of the two men in goal.
He made two full-stretch saves to deny Tomlin and Jacob Butterfield from long range, before making two more impressive stops to keep out Reach and Daniel Ayala.
Tom Kennedy got in the way of Albert Adomah’s close range shot, despite knowing little about it, but while they should have gone into the break with a significant advantage, the score remained goalless.
However, eight minutes after the restart the deadlock was broken, but it wasn’t by the side most people inside the Riverside would have expected.
Fighting for survival, the Tykes took a 53rd minute lead when former Sunderland trainee Jean-Yves M’voto volleyed home from Kennedy’s corner.
It left Boro shell-shocked but the visitors’ lead lasted less than a minute when Tomlin equalised for the hosts after picking up a loose ball and drilling past Steele.
Three minutes later Karanka’s men could have taken the lead, but again the Barnsley keeper was on hand to tip Graham’s free-kick round the post.
After Nathanial Chalobah replaced Butterfield, Boro were forced into their third change when Seb Hines came on for the injured Kenneth Omeruo.
Boro had already lost Woodgate in the first half and the Tykes almost capitalised when substitute Nick Proschwitz shot wide from a great position inside the area.
A few moments later, it appeared Boro hadn’t learned their lesson from Barnsley’s opener when M’voto got on the end of another Kennedy corner unmarked, only to direct his header over the bar.
As the game wore on, Barnsley pressed forward in search of a winner, but at the other end Tomlin had a chance to put Boro ahead but Steele matched him once again with a great save.
The Tykes threw everything forward in the hope of snatching a late winner, but from an attack, Boro broke forward with Danny Graham finishing off a great run from Chalobah to win it.
There was still time for Tomlin to add his second of the game from another counter attack.