Daily Mail

Saints surging at the right time

- TOM PRENTKI at St Mary’s Stadium

Che Adams’ double inspired Southampto­n to an easy win over Preston as the most enthrallin­g battle for automatic promotion in the history of the Championsh­ip took yet another twist.

The top four are only separated by five points after the soaring Saints swatted North end aside.

Russell Martin’s side still have to travel to Leicester City and face a tantalisin­g final day at Leeds with all of the top four on track to achieve 90 points or more.

But it is Southampto­n who have the most momentum — and playing like this they will be a match for anyone.

The evening did not start well for the home side, who lost goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu to injury during the warm-up.

Alex McCarthy, 34, was drafted in to start his first league game of the season.

Fortunatel­y, he wasn’t busy with Saints amassing more than 76 per cent possession for long spells.

It was no surprise when they took the lead on 19 minutes.

It came from a characteri­stically fluid passing move, with David Brooks and Adam Armstrong the architects and Adams on hand to coolly convert from six yards out.

The first half was Russell Martin football at its finest and 10 minutes later, Adams scored his 17th goal of the season to cap another fine team move.

This time it came from the left side where Ryan Manning played in Adams, who brilliantl­y dummied to Brooks before receiving it back and finishing low into the corner.

Saints were unstoppabl­e and four minutes later were three up after a disastrous clearance from Duane holmes dropped straight to Stuart Armstrong who curled his shot into the near corner.

The Scotland internatio­nal also struck a post from the edge of the area with Preston all at sea. Manager Ryan Lowe’s frustratio­n was threatenin­g to get the better of him. he was booked by referee Samuel Barrott while also subbing the calamitous holmes in the 39th minute.

The game resembled a training exercise in the second half, though Adams almost claimed his hat-trick as he brought down Kyle Walker-Peters’ pass before Freddie Woodman rushed from his line to save.

Woodman kept the score down after he clawed Brooks’ effort clear but the Saints will look forward to bigger battles as they seek an instant return to the top flight.

 ?? PA ?? Done and dusted: Adams hits his second of the night
PA Done and dusted: Adams hits his second of the night
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