Southampton manager Nigel Adkins savoured his side’s spirit as the Championship leaders maintained their push for a place in the Premier League with a 4-2 win at Coventry.
Nigel Adkins’ team blew a two-goal lead at the Ricoh Arena but hit back to secure a fifth win in seven league matches and move five points clear of second-placed West Ham.
Richard Chaplow netted for the Saints in the 34th minute and Adam Lallana doubled the lead five minutes later, but Lukas Jutkiewicz got the hosts back into it two minutes into the second period.
Clive Platt’s opportunistic strike in the 70th minute pulled Coventry level, but seven minutes later Guly Do Prado put Southampton back into the lead and Steve de Ridder rounded off the scoring five minute from time.
“Great credit to our players, we changed our formation, got our noses back in front, changed our formation again and saw the game out,” Adkins said.
“We have showed that character away from home to go and win and it is pleasing.
“The strategy was to make sure we were still in the race come January and we are leading the race and we want to stay there.”
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce hailed his side’s killer instinct as they remained in the other automatic promotion place after a comfortable 2-0 win at Hull.
Sam Baldock opened the scoring for the Hammers from close range four minutes after the break and Jack Collison made it 2-0 eight minutes later.
“We were ruthless when it came to the good period we had and we were very good tactically,” Allardyce said.
“We defended very well in the first half but we didn’t do enough in attack.
“We changed things around in the second half by bringing on [Carlton] Cole and we got a fantastic result with two goals in a great 10-minute spell.”
Fourth-placed Cardiff are firmly in the promotion hunt after a 2-0 win over fellow play-off hopefuls Crystal Palace.
Kenny Miller broke the deadlock in the 69th minute and Peter Whittingham added a second 10 minutes from the end.
“I’m delighted with the win. We were too one-dimensional in the first half and needed to pick up the pace after the break,” Cardiff boss Malky Mackay said.
“We came into the week having a tough time after a period of seven games in 22 days.
“We have played three teams above us in Leeds, Derby and now Palace and to come out of those games with belief and momentum is pleasing.”
Kevin Phillips came off the bench to give Blackpool a 1-0 win over Millwall at Bloomfield Road that lifted Ian Holloway’s side into fifth place.
Steve Cotterill endured a miserable return to former club Portsmouth as his Nottingham Forest were beaten 3-0.
Cotterill left Pompey in mid-October after 16 months in charge to succeed Steve McClaren at the City Ground.
But Erik Huseklapp pounced to put Pompey ahead against the run of play on the stroke of half-time, Dave Kitson made it two and Huseklapp’s second six minutes from time confirmed Cotterill’s misery.
Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf fired bottom side Doncaster to a much-needed 3-2 win at Ipswich.
Diouf headed home James Coppinger’s cross for his first goal for the club after 18 minutes and Billy Sharp doubled the lead six minutes later.
Diouf grabbed his second six minutes before the break and though substitute Josh Carson pulled one back for Ipswich in the 53rd minute and Michael Chopra netted moments before the end, Doncaster held on.
However, Rovers remained bottom as fellow strugglers Bristol City were 3-1 winners over Burnley.
Peterborough came from two goals down to claim a last-gasp 3-2 win over Derby, while third-placed Middlesbrough beat Watford 1-0. – AFP