Southampton seal promotion to Premier League

AFP, Saturday 28 Apr 2012

Southampton finished two points ahead of West Ham and one point behind champions Reading, who sealed their promotion earlier this month

Southampton clinched promotion to the Premier League with a 4-0 victory over Coventry on the final day of the Championship campaign on Saturday.

The Saints return to the top-flight for the first time since 2005 after goals from Billy Sharp, Jose Fonte, Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana crushed relegated Coventry in front of a jubilant capacity crowd at St Mary's.

Nigel Adkins' side needed the win to hold off the threat from third placed West Ham, who would have snatched the second automatic promotion spot with their 2-1 win victory over Hull if Southampton had lost.

Just two years ago, the south-coast club were facing an uncertain future in League One, but Adkins has masterminded a remarkable transformation and they can now look forward to locking horns with Manchester United, Chelsea and company after back to back promotions.

After blowing a chance to seal promotion at Middlesbrough last Saturday, when a 2-1 defeat left Southampton sweating on their fate for one more week, there might have been a few jitters in the Saints dressing room before kick-off.

But any nerves quickly disappeared as two goals in three minutes killed off Coventry before half-time.

Former Doncaster striker Bily Sharp struck first when he turned in Lallana's shot in the 16th minute and Portuguese defender Jose Fonte headed the second from Daniel Fox's 19th minute corner.

Hooiveld netted the third in the 59th minute and highly-rated midfielder Lallana sealed the rout four minutes later.

Southampton finished two points ahead of West Ham and one point behind champions Reading, who sealed their promotion earlier this month.

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