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Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder was defiant after watching his side lose more ground in the race for a play-off Championship berth with a 1-1 draw at Swansea.
Wilder insisted his out-of-form team can still make the top six – even though they are now five points adrift of the cut with just three matches left to play.
A goal by Australian midfielder Riley McGree gave Boro a 46th-minute lead at the Swansea.com Stadium, only for in-form Swans striker Michael Obafemi to cancel it out almost immediately.
Asked if his side could still make the top six, Wilder said: “Yes, 100 per cent. I haven’t got a crystal ball, I don’t know what’s in front of us but there is no given result in this division.
“The teams above us have difficult games to play, the teams around us have difficult games to play – as do we.
“We’re back home on Wednesday night (against Cardiff) and it’s a season-defining game.”
The match exploded into life in the second half with both sides scoring and going close by either hitting the woodwork or wasting good opportunities.
Wilder added: “It was carnage at times and from a neutrals’ point of view probably fabulous viewing.
“There could have been a few heart-attacks for both managers and arguably we’ve had the best opportunities of the game.
“I don’t think it would have been a smash and grab, it would have been us winning a really tight game.”
Despite Wilder’s optimism Boro now look virtual certainties to remain in the Championship having taken two points from a possible 15 in their last five outings.
They remain in eighth spot and while they have a game in hand on the two teams above they have a mountain to climb.
Swans boss Russell Martin insisted his side have grown in stature even though the season has not yielded the hoped-for push for the play-offs.
“I am really excited about next season. We’ve shown intensity, courage and bravery,” said Martin.
“Today showed how far we have come especially in terms of our mentality.
“We were brave, we had dominance and control at times and we want to take this momentum into next season.
“It was a really high-level game and I liked the first half. We had some good moments but lacked composure and quality in the last third.
“It was an uncharacteristic mistake from us for their goal but credit to the guys for how they reacted.
“We got caught up with the emotion a bit in the second half, it was scary stuff at times.
“They pressed well at times, but we had some brilliant chances.
“It’s a good point for us against a team fighting to be promoted.”
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