MIDDLESBROUGH manager Chris Wilder gave a brutally honest assessment of his side’s 4-1 loss to Preston North End as he admitted they got what they deserved at Deepdale.

The Lilywhites surged into a two goal lead in the first half through Alan Browne’s volley and Dael Fry’s own goal. Marcus Tavernier handed Boro an early lifeline in the second half but the game was put to bed as Emil Riis Jakobsen twice, one from the penalty spot, as Paddy McNair was given a straight red for a handball off the line.

On a day where Boro were hoping to make a final push for the play-offs, their fight seemed like it was already over by the end of the first half. Having spent months clawing their way up the table, and end of season run-in, followed by a poor afternoon in Lancashire on the final day, saw them fall short. The Boro boss had no complaints as he gave plenty of credit to his opposition.

“Not the performance, not the day. You wake up believing but not to be” said Wilder.

“Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. Players were really off of it. If anybody else outside of being a professional footballer asked me about nothing to play for ever again, I’ll just show you the performance of the opposition today.

“Fully deserved the result. I thought they were better than us all over the pitch. Their front two were better than our back three. Their midfield players dominated a dictated. Their back three were more aggressive. Their wing backs were better than our wing backs. Their goalkeeper made saves.

“Two teams that are exactly the same shapes. We’ve had better results than them because that’s where we are and Preston are in the position that they are but it was a better performance individually and collectively by Preston and Ryan’s team. Their substitutions made impacts.

“It goes down to that really. It’s a pretty simplistic game. Our fight should have been bigger than theirs but they’ve put that question to bed about having anything to play for. That shut that one right up.

“Goals change games and going 2-0 up, it becomes a long afternoon. I’m not saying the players didn’t have a fight in them but it becomes a long afternoon. The goals that we concede and the general performances really.”

Victories for Luton Town and Sheffield United means they join Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-offs.

Over 5,000 stunned Boro fans watched on in Lancashire as Boro capitulated in the second half. With his side nowhere near their best, the Boro boss, did manage to pick one positive to take from the game.

“I look at the team. Plus point? Jonny Howson. That’s it” admitted Wilder.

“You come to any Championship game, regardless of whether it’s the 46th Championship game of the season, play-off final, first game of the season, if it’s Tuesday night here on a freezing November, players have got to turn up and play. We’ve not had anybody apart from Jonny Howson.

“You look at the opposition, I would say sevens and eights. Riis and Archer at the top of the pitch destroyed our back three. Their back three dominated our two boys at the top of the pitch. I can’t really take a comfort from the performance.

“You don’t play well individually, how are you going to put a team performance together?

“I thought we were alright for the first ten or fifteen minutes. We were comfortable and obviously the first goal changes the dynamics of everything, gives them a boost.

“We go into a shell and make some poor decisions. On the far side, however he comes out of a tackle between two of our players and then it’s a deflection. All of a sudden, you’re staring down the barrel. Pressure to win the game intensifies.”

The Championship season ends with Boro in seventh place and five points outside the top six.