Watford suffered defeat on the final day of the Sky Bet Championship season as Head Coach Tom Cleverley lost out to former Manchester United midfield partner Michael Carrick.

Emmanuel Latte Lath gave the hosts the lead in a low tempo first-half before the game really sprung into life after the break.

Hornets Player of the Season Wesley Hoedt equalised with a well-placed header but Carrick’s side regained the ascendancy with goals from Alex Bangura and Isaiah Jones.

The two Head Coaches won the Premier League together in 2013 while at United, and both had expressed their respect for one another before the game.

In the end, Cleverley was left to rue chances missed at the Riverside Stadium as Carrick watched his side bury theirs.

Three changes were made by Cleverley to the team which beat Sunderland 1-0 at Vicarage Road last weekend.

Ryan Porteous, being rested with this summer’s Euros in mind, was replaced at the back by Francisco Sierralta and Mileta Rajović was named in attack instead of Emmanuel Dennis; the latter having picked up a knee problem.

Ryan Andrews, who came off the bench to net the Sunderland winner, was restored to the side in place of Jack Grieves.

Cleverley, the Lead Coach of the Under-18s before stepping up to the top job, put his Academy knowledge to good use and picked a youthful bench.

Albert Eames, Zavier Massiah-Edwards, Amin Nabizada and Leo Ramirez-Espain were all named among the substitutes with each hoping to make their Hornets debut.

The visitors fashioned the first chance in the sixth minute when Vakoun Bayo got his head to Ken Sema’s cross, forcing Middlesbrough keeper Seny Dieng to bat away.

At the other end Boro’s leading scorer Latte Lath, fresh from seven goals in his last five games, rushed onto a lobbed pass from Alex Gilbert and honed in on goal.

The forward was about to pull the trigger but Hoedt was there to turn it behind with a crucial challenge.

Gilbert drilled a free-kick into the wall following a foul by Middlesbrough-born Mattie Pollock on the edge of the box, which earned the Hornets defender a yellow card.

Watford keeper Daniel Bachmann was forced to claw away Jones’ angled shot as the hosts began to get on top, but he was unable to keep out Latte Lath’s opener.

Luke Ayling swung in a cross and the Ivorian was allowed too much room to nip in and bounce a finish into the corner.

The visitors had an instant chance to respond after Ismaël Koné slid a perfect pass through to Rajović, but the striker sliced his shot wide at the near post when it was begging to be smashed across Dieng.

Another opportunity arrived for the Golden Boys in the 40th minute but Yáser Asprilla scooped his shot into the air following Andrews’ cross, and Dieng had an easy catch.

Edo Kayembe then rifled wide as the Hornets ended the half strongly without being able to get on level terms.

James Morris was introduced for Sema at the break with Cleverley’s men looking for a strong start to the last 45 minutes of the season.

It was Middlesbrough who had the first chance, however, as Latte Lath headed on goal from a tight angle at the back post and forced Bachmann into a good save.

Watford had a great chance to level when Bayo was sent through one-on-one by Andrews’ superb long pass, but Gilbert tracked back and poked the ball away before the striker could take his shot.

An end-to-end start to the half continued with Bachmann saving well from Luke Thomas, before Matheus Martins was introduced for Rajović.

With much more time and space suddenly on offer for attacking play, Gilbert curled an effort from the edge of the box only just wide.

Martins then nearly made an immediate impact with a deflected shot following good work by Asprilla, with Matt Clarke on hand to clear away as Bayo looked to mop up with a close-range finish.

Clarke was involved at the other end as he headed home sub Daniel Barlaser’s floated ball across goal when well positioned at the back post, and the Hornets then found their leveller.

Asprilla’s near-post corner was met by Hoedt, who helped the ball on its way perfectly with a glancing header which nestled in the far corner.

With Hornets tails up, Koné drove forward and forced Dieng into a diving save as he looked for a pinpoint finish, but Boro were then quickly back in front.

Two home subs combined as Sam Greenwood skipped past challenges in the box before finding Bangura to place past Bachmann.

Cleverley reacted by bringing on Grieves for Pollock in an attacking switch, but two became three for the hosts when Ayling cut back for Jones to smash home from close range.

Latte Lath wasn’t far away with an effort when trying to make it four, before the introduction of Eames and Massiah-Edwards ended a frustrating afternoon for the Hornets with a slice of hope for the future.

This was only Cleverley's second defeat in nine matches as Head Coach, with the Hornets ending 15th in the Championship.


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