Nathan Tella was left with mixed emotions as Southampton Under-23s signed off their Premier League 2 campaign with victory, only to miss out on a place in the play-offs.
The young Saints needed to better Reading’s result at home to Stoke, but a 3-1 victory for the Royals meant events at St Mary’s were academic.
Radhi Jaïdi’s men produced an impressive display nonetheless, defeating high-flying Middlesbrough 2-1 with first-half goals from Alfie Jones and Tella.
“Obviously we’re happy we got the win – happy for the boys and with the performance,” the winger said.
“But it’s disappointing that after our hard work this season it’s come to the point where we had to rely on other results.
“Everyone’s a bit happy and frustrated.”
Tella doubled Saints’ lead with his third goal in two games – an accomplished near-post finish from Michael Obafemi’s low cross.
“I’ve just started to score again so I’m happy, but now the season’s ended!” he added, cursing his luck.
“It was hard at the start just adapting, but once I found my stride I’ve really enjoyed it.
“The boys have helped me, the coaches have really helped me and the first team have also been in and around helping us, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”