IT’S win or bust for Middlesbrough at Watford tomorrow afternoon (KO 12.30pm).
Even then, a maximum return does not guarantee a play-off berth.
Should Cardiff City get at least a draw at Crystal Palace, then Boro’s result at Vicarage Road is academic and the Welsh side will battle it out for the final promotion place to the Premier League.
But Tony Mowbray’s men kept alive their hopes with a surprise 2-1 win over second-placed Southampton last weekend.
One of the scorers last Saturday night – Nicky Bailey – had not netted since September, while match-winner Merouane Zemmama had to go back 13 months for his last league goal.
And Bailey wouldn’t mind a repeat of his scoring feat against the Hornets.
“I shouldn’t have been there,” said the Londoner, who will have the backing of 2,000 Boro fans tomorrow.
“I should have been marking a bit further back but my eyes lit up.
“We were one down and not far from half-time so I thought I would push on and see what happened.
“But I’d forgotten how to celebrate – although I wouldn’t mind another one tomorrow.”
He went on: “The win keeps our hopes alive and you never know what will happen tomorrow.
“We have to win, then we wait.
“All I could hear at the start of the game on Saturday was the Boro fans, they could have turned on us early on but they got right behind us and I’m certain they will again tomorrow.”
Zemmama, meanwhile, was equally thrilled with his stunning winner against the Saints – a dipping free-kick which nestled into the top corner.
“I have had a difficult time with a double hernia,” said the Moroccan.
“I had an operation and now I’m fine.
“I’m happy, too, that the players showed great character.
“The manager said at half-time that we had to win the game for the fans and we did.
“I sensed Southampton were a bit nervy when we equalised.
“But well done to the players for showing the character to come back after conceding so early.
“If we don’t go up we will still be proud of ourselves for achieving improvement this season.
“And if we don’t get it this year, we’ll get it next.”