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Full Time After Extra Time This is a live match. Extra Time Half Time

Southampton vs Preston North End. Sky Bet Championship.

St. Mary's StadiumAttendance27,636.

Southampton 3

  • C Adams (19th minute, 29th minute)
  • S Armstrong (33rd minute)

Preston North End 0

    Southampton 3-0 Preston North End: Che Adams scores twice as Saints' automatic promotion hopes grow again

    Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Southampton and Preston North End at St Mary's; two goals from Che Adams and one from Stuart Armstrong helped Saints close in on the top three

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    Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship clash between Southampton and Preston North End

    Southampton's hopes of automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship picked up more pace on Tuesday night as they eased to a 3-0 win over Preston.

    The result sees Russell Martin's men move to within four points of second-placed Leicester.

    In an overwhelmingly dominant first half where Saints racked up 14 shots, Che Adams' cool double put them two in front, before Stuart Armstrong seized on a mistake at the back to curl home a third.

    They were unable to add a fourth in an uneventful second half but, with next to no threat from Preston, those three goals sealed a third straight win to put pressure on the current top three.

    North End's chances of reaching the play-offs now appear to be all but over, with nine points separating them from Norwich in sixth and just three games remaining.

    How Saints increased the pressure on the top three

    It's all well and good having games in hand, particularly at such a crucial point in the season, but they mean nothing if you do not take advantage of them. Needless to say, the pressure was on Southampton, given they had been touted for a late return to the automatic promotion picture.

    They received a significant blow before kick-off, with goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu dropping out of the starting team through injury, with Alex McCarthy - who had not played a single minute since August 8 - starting in his place.

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    Che Adams scores milestone goal to put Southampton ahead against Preston North End

    Bazunu returned to the bench on crutches, but is likely to miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury.

    Preston were set up to frustrate - and for almost 20 minutes, their plan worked; Saints were dominant, but had to be patient and bide their time.

    Once they made the breakthrough, though, there was no going back. Adams scored his first - the 100th of his senior career - with a simple finish after Adam Armstrong had found him with a cross from the left.

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    The message from Southampton is clear - they are coming for the top two! Che Adams scores his second for Southampton

    And he added a second from a similar position within 10 minutes, coolly slotting home after an effortless exchange of passes with David Brooks.

    Armstrong then made it three after making the most of a shocking clearance from Duane Holmes and, twice in quick succession, he almost grabbed a second, first smashing a shot at Liam Lindsay and then rattling the base of the right-hand post.

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    Adam Armstrong fires in from outside the box to make it three for Southampton

    The second half was far less high octane than the first. Preston failed to add to their tally of one shot, with Southampton's best chance coming when Brooks' powerful drive was superbly tipped over the crossbar by Freddie Woodman.

    But by that point, it didn't matter. Saints were home and dry - and on the march.

    The managers

    Southampton's Russell Martin:

    "It has been a big week for us. It has changed the dynamic. We were written off some point ago but the players have stuck at it and been resilient.

    "We have the opportunity to take the points off teams around us but if we have to take care of the next one against Cardiff and if we don't then the others become a bit pointless.

    "He [Gavin Bazunu] has felt something in his Achilles and will have a scan tomorrow. We don't expect to see him any time soon and we'll give him all the support he needs.

    "Al [Alex McCarthy] has trained so well. He has travelled everywhere and trained like a beast. We've seen what Joe (Lumley) can do and has done really well and we wanted to see Al. It was a feeling I had in my gut at the time.

    "He [Che Adams] has just threatened to beat me up out there! We had a hug and a laugh and he understands why I had to take him off. He looks like he is going to score all the time at the moment."

    Preston's Ryan Lowe:

    "The be all and end all was the first half has cost us. The game plan that we set out to do in the first half was nowhere near.

    "The game was probably over at half-time at 3-0. You can't give a team like Southampton chances like that because they're a fantastic team.

    "The game plan was to try and nullify their strengths and capitalise on their weaknesses and we didn't really do either.

    "They could end up going up automatically, if not they're going to be a real force in the play-offs."

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