25 Mar 2012

Southampton on course for promotion

10:06 am on 25 March 2012

Southampton are one step closer to English football's Premier League as striker Billy Sharp's double secured a 2-0 win over his former club Doncaster at St Mary's.

Saints are now nine points clear of third-placed West Ham and look a good bet to secure one of the two automatic promotion spots just 12 months after coming up from League One.

Second-placed Reading are also in a strong position in the promotion race after beating Blackpool 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium to move four points clear of West Ham.

West Ham staged a second half fight-back to rescue a 2-2 draw at Burnley - their fifth straight stalemate - but Sam Allardyce's side need to improve quickly to avoid blowing their automatic promotion chances.

Ten-man Brighton remain fourth after conceding a last minute equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.

Fifth-placed Middlesbrough were held to a 1-1 home draw by 10-man Bristol City.

Elsewhere, Leeds bounced back from their 7-3 hammering at home to Forest in midweek by beating Millwall 1-0 at The Den.

Leicester defeated Hull 2-1, Derby beat Crystal Palace 3-2 and Watford saw off Ipswich 2-1.

Barnsley won 1-0 against Peterborough and Coventry boosted their survival hopes with a 2-0 win against bottom of the table Portsmouth.