AND relax. Middlesbrough are safe, so we can forget about points deductions, courtroom battles and the small-print of the EFL’s regulations for the rest of the summer. On a night when they needed a point to guarantee their Championship survival come what may, Neil Warnock’s side did exactly what was required of them by claiming all three.

In truth, events elsewhere meant their final outing of the season was largely irrelevant. Within 13 minutes of kick-off, Charlton had fallen behind to Leeds at Elland Road, a result that secured Boro’s safety regardless of what happened at Hillsborough. The Addicks would eventually go on to lose 4-0, and with Birmingham also losing at home to Derby, Boro could not have dropped into the bottom three whatever they did. And that’s before Wigan’s 12-point penalty is also thrown into the equation.

A night that might have been packed with tension turned out to be something of a stroll, with Paddy McNair’s 23rd-minute strike cancelling out Jacob Murphy’s early deflected opener before Britt Assombalonga stabbed home a winner in stoppage time.

The victory means Neil Warnock has claimed 12 points from his eight matches in charge, and attention now switches to the Boro boss’ meeting with Steve Gibson later today in which he will discuss his future. If he stays on, his first ambition will be to ensure he is not heading into the final game of next season trying to keep his side out of League One.

Plenty needs to change if Boro are to be targeting the top half of the table next season, and to that end, it will be interesting to see if last night’s game proves to be the final outing for George Friend and Marvin Johnson, both of whom are now free agents. Adam Clayton, who was nowhere to be seen despite Warnock’s pleadings for him to make himself available, is surely on his way.

A number of other players will be wondering about their future. If Warnock stays, will he stick with the likes of Djed Spence, Anfernee Dijksteel and Hayden Coulson? Will he look for an upgrade on McNair and George Saville? Will he look to offload Assombalonga or Ashley Fletcher given their lack of success for much of this term?

All will become clear in the next few weeks, but having been parachuted in to save Boro a little over a month ago, Warnock can take pride in the fact that he come up trumps yet again. In three of the last four seasons, he has saved a club that looked destined for the drop before he arrived.

Last night, with his side’s Championship fate potentially hanging in the balance, it was telling that he went for experience. Dejan Stojanovic replaced Aynsley Pears in goal, and Assombalonga got the nod ahead of Patrick Roberts. If Warnock does stay on, expect Boro’s brief flirtation with youth under Jonathan Woodgate to be shelved.

Having turned to his senior performers, the Boro boss would have demanded a strong start, and displaying an early impetus that was lacking in so many of their previous performances this season, the Teessiders almost broke the deadlock just seven minutes in. Assombalonga twisted and turned in the box to set up McNair, and from an inviting position on the edge of the area, the Northern Irishman cracked a well-hit drive against the right-hand post.

McNair could not have done a lot more with his effort, but Boro’s misfortune was to continue three minutes later. Garry Monk, whose lavish expenditure while Boro boss is a major factor in the club’s ongoing struggles, made a number of changes to his Sheffield Wednesday side, and one of his alterations paid early dividends.

Murphy was restored to the Owls’ starting line-up after coming off the bench to score in last weekend’s 5-3 defeat at Fulham, and he was on target again to break the deadlock against Boro.

The goal owed much to a huge slice of luck though, with Murphy’s long-range effort taking a hefty deflection off Saville before whistling past a helpless Stojanovic. For fans of quirky trivia, Murphy’s twin brother, Josh, scored two of Cardiff’s goals against Boro at the weekend.

Trailing, and almost certainly unaware that other results were already going in their favour, it would have been easy for visiting heads to drop in the wake of such an unfortunate setback. A lack of backbone has been a failing in Boro ranks all season.

To their credit, however, Warnock’s players continued to have a spring in their step. Fletcher drilled a shot straight at Joe Wildsmith after the Wednesday keeper fumbled Marcus Tavernier’s cross into his path, and Wildsmith was called into action again a couple of minutes later, keeping out Saville’s low shot with his left hand.

It felt as though a Boro equaliser was coming, and it duly arrived midway through the first half. It was the result of a flowing passing move, with Fletcher seizing on a mistake from Barry Bannan to release Tavernier down the left.

Tavernier picked out an unmarked McNair as he squared the ball across the area, and his fellow midfielder made no mistake as he slotted home a slick first-time finish.

Boro’s attacking adventure meant their leveller was merited, and while a draw was always going to be good enough no matter what happened elsewhere, the visitors continued to push forward.

They continued to look vulnerable at the other end, and Stojanovic was called into action on the stroke of half-time as he turned Bannan’s long-range strike around the post.

Level at the break, Boro were keeping their side of the survival bargain, and with scores elsewhere also going in the Teessiders’ favour, Warnock would have been a satisfied man as he strode across the Hillsborough turf at half-time, checking events elsewhere on his phone with Ronnie Jepson.

By the early stages of the second half, Leeds were opening up a three-goal lead against Charlton, a scoreline that rendered the second half of Boro’s game largely meaningless.

How much the players knew of that is hard to know for certain, but while their energy levels did not really drop in the second period, the lack of any kind of an edge was increasingly apparent.

Dael Fry had a worrying moment when he almost headed Kadeem Harris’ cross into his own net – a scrambling Stojanovic would not have been able to keep the ball out had it not drifted an inch or so wide of the post – but with Saville throwing himself into the way of a succession of long-range shots in his position at the base of midfield, Boro rarely looked troubled in the second half, even though their opponents became increasingly dominant in terms of possession.

They settled things once and for all in stoppage time, with Assombalonga claiming a winner. Fletcher broke clear down the left, Assombalonga turned in the box after receiving his cross, and while Wildsmith got a hand to the striker’s cross, he was unable to keep the ball out of the net.

Warnock, standing in his technical area, leaped into the air. Another survival mission; another success.