Saints & Royals victorious

Nigel Adkins
Southampton manager, Nigel Adkins, with a lot to smile about Photo: PA

A double from Billy Sharp against his old club Doncaster helped Southampton to a 2-0 win which maintained their five-point lead at the top of the npower Championship. Sharp, who joined Saints from the Yorkshire club in January, scored in the 58th and 75th minutes to secure a fourth straight win for Nigel Adkins' team and extend second-bottom Doncaster's run to one win in 14.

Reading remain Southampton's closest challengers as they beat play-off hopefuls Blackpool 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals responded well to their midweek defeat at Peterborough and led 2-0 through goals from Ian Harte (30) and Alex Pearce (35) but Lomana LuaLua gave the Seasiders hope with a goal four minutes before the break.

Mikele Leigertwood's strike on the hour mark made sure of the win for Brian McDermott's team, who extended their lead over third-placed West Ham to four points after the Hammers could only take a point at Burnley, their fifth draw in a row.

They looked as though they would leave Lancashire with nothing after falling behind to goals from Marvin Bartley (25) and Martin Paterson (36) but two goals in two minutes from Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins (68 and 70) brought them back into the match.

Elsewhere The gap between third and fourth remains seven points as Brighton were held 1-1

at Nottingham Forest. Sam Vokes gave the Seagulls a 63rd-minute lead but the sending-off of Matthew Sparrow was quickly followed by Joel Lynch's leveller in the fourth minute of

injury time.

Middlesbrough moved above Blackpool into fifth thanks to a 1-1 draw at Bristol City, a result which left both sides without a win in four matches. Hogan Ephraim marked his Robins debut following a loan move from QPR with an early goal but substitute Malaury Martin equalised for Boro.

Coventry are now just one adrift of Bristol City in the first position of safety after following four successive draws with a 2-0 win over bottom side Portsmouth. Gary McSheffrey (55) and Oliver Norwood (77) grabbed the goals for the Sky Blues.

Hull remain two points outside the play-off places following a 2-1 defeat at Leicester. Matty Fryatt put the Tigers 1-0 up with an eighth-minute goal against his old club, but the Foxes fought back through Lloyd Dyer (18) and Ben Marshall (19) and took the points despite the 57th-minute dismissal of Neil Danns.

Derby ended Crystal Palace's 10-match unbeaten run with a 3-2 win at Pride Park. The Rams raced into a 3-0 lead with goals from Steve Davies (6), Jeff Hendrick (29) and Theo Robinson's 49th-minute penalty but the Eagles threatened a comeback as Chris Martin (79) and Darren Ambrose (90) pulled goals back.

Watford extended their unbeaten run to six with a 2-1 win over Ipswich. Paul Jewell's men led through Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (18) put Watford hit back through Sean Murray (71) and Troy Deeney won it eight minutes from the end.

Leeds stayed 10th after a 1-0 win at Millwall. Ross McCormack's 16th league goal of the season in the 65th minute won it, but Darius Henderson had a penalty saved by Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan seconds later.

Barnsley ended a seven-match winless run as David Cotterill's 24th-minute goal was enough to see off Peterborough at Oakwell. The Tykes had Nathan Doyle sent off in the 32nd minute.