Seven years after their relegation to the Championship, Middlesbrough earned promotion back to the Promise land. Boro battled hard to secure the pivotal point needed to send them back to the top flight.
It is these sort of games where cult heroes are made, players that find that extra spark to lift their team out of the doldrums. It was an early strike at the Riverside that got the ball rolling. Cristhian Stuari the beneficiary of Gaston Ramirez’ sensational delivery. There was chatter amongst pundits that there was interference in play leading up to David Nugent’s pinpoint cut-back, but Uruguay international Stuani wheeled away in delight, with Middlesbrough holding the advantage.
That would not be the end of a magnificent campaign for the Seaguls, needing three points to gain Premier League status for the first time, Dale Stephens nodded in a near identical set piece to Stuani’s opener. With the game firmly in the balance, it could’ve been easy for either defence to crumble under the pressure, but both rear guards stood firm.
There was an unexpected turn in proceedings, with half an hour to play. Brighton goal-scorer and midfield engine Dale Stephens receiving his first dismissal of a sensational season and giving the men in red an overwhelming advantage. Having been grounded by Stephens studs up challenge, Ramirez, somewhat unsportingly, revealed a huge gash on his shin left by the challenge. Originally Mike Dean looked to have pulled the yellow card out of his pocket, but having seen the effects of the tackle, he decided to show red.
Middlesbrough continue to draw on the raucous atmosphere, with Stuani and Nugent being denied by excellent David Stockdale saves. Going into eight minutes of added time it was anyone’s game, but the reduction to ten men had obviously played its part on the seasiders.
At 14:26 the magical Middlesbrough moment was confirmed, and with North East rivals Newcastle and Sunderland on the brink of relegation, they could be representing the north east in next season’s top flight. A roar of red spurred Boro through the final exchanges. Deafening whistled surrounding the stadium. And when Mike Dean put whistle to lips, the Riverside burst its banked as a sea of red flooded the pitch.