Mick McCarthy and Stuart Gray paid tribute to their respective squads after Ipswich edged out Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Portman Road to conclude their Sky Bet Championship seasons.
Their battles might have been at different ends of the table but the two managers cut contented figures after the season ended with a typically lacklustre encounter.
Gray masterminded Wednesday’s rise away from the relegation zone after a dreadful first half of the season, while McCarthy has turned Ipswich from relegation contenders to top-six hopefuls.
Ipswich put aside their failure to take their top-six push into the final day with a single-goal victory over the Owls - Tommy Smith and Paul Green scoring to ensure a ninth-place finish, despite Kieran Lee’s equaliser.
McCarthy said: “It is progress and I am immensely proud of the lads - I think they have been great.
“I think the majority of fans have appreciated the effort of the players and we have certainly appreciated their support.
“We have not spent a note on anyone coming in and the nucleus of the side will be here next season.
“When you look at the teams below us - Forest, Huddersfield, Bolton - they have all done it differently.”
Gray was left frustrated leaving Suffolk pointless after more than shading both chances and possession.
The Owls boss said: “I am a little bit disappointed with how we have ended the season. With 21 goal attempts, we should be doing more.
“We probably deserved something from the game, whether a win or a draw.
“Their goalkeeper pulled off two great saves in the first half and they were defining moments, as we were dominating possession.
“But credit to the players for how we have ended the season. We started with something like one win from 18 games. We have fizzled out a little at the end where we have probably been overstretched.”
A dismal first half an hour at Portman Road was livened up by the opening goal, even if Ipswich were slightly fortunate to claim it.
Green showed composure to pick out Daryl Murphy instead of shooting and while Damian Martinez performed heroics to deny the Town striker, Smith was on hand to tap home the rebound in the 37th minute.
Ipswich were then indebted to keeper Dean Gerken, who kept the lead intact with two brilliant saves just before the break.
First he flung himself to his right to push aside Caolan Lavery’s angled effort before bettering that with a fine reflex save from Michail Antonio from the resulting corner.
Wednesday finally claimed an equaliser 10 minutes after the restart when Lavery’s air-kick fell fortunately into the path of Lee, who made no mistake.
Despite the visitors looking the more likely to add to their tally, it was Ipswich who reclaimed the lead in the 67th minute.
Stephen Hunt’s inswinging free-kick was neatly flicked on by Green, who gave Martinez no chance to claim all three points.