Southampton promoted to the Premier League
Npower Championship-  Season 2011/12
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By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor 



Southampton, promoted from League One in 2010-11, made the perfect start to life back in the Championship with a 3-1 home victory over Leeds United at St Marys 



Ten-man Saints made it six points out of six winning their first two league games for the first time in 23 years and extended the club's winning run to eight games stretching back to the end of last season with a 1-0 victory over Barnsley in their first away match of the season at Oakwell despite Richard Chaplow's red card



On 20th August, Nigel Adkins's men went top of the Championship table after inflicting Millwall's first defeat of the season thanks to a solitary goal from Guly Do Prado making it four wins in their first four league matches of the campaign



Leicester City were the first team to beat the Saints during the season a week later with a 3-2 win in a thrilling match at the King Power Stadium which recorded their first home win of the campaign as Kasper Schmeichel was in fine form in the second half in the Foxes goal



After the Leicester defeat, Southampton defeated Nottingham Forest before celebrating boss Nigel Adkins's first year and 100th match in charge with a thumping 4-1 home victory over Birmingham City to mark the club's best start to a season in 103 years as Rickie Lambert (pictured above) converts a penalty



Southampton went on a mini two-game blip at the end of September when drawing 1-1 at Burnley and they were then condemned to a second league defeat of the season at Cardiff City



Infront of a record 32,152 attendance at St Marys, league leaders Southampton extended their lead to five points on 18th October after edging past second-placed West Ham courtesy of a headed winner by on-loan Celtic defender Jos Hooiveld shortly before half-time thus ending the Hammers' unbeaten run away from home



With the pressure increasing, the Saints battled back from a goal down after losing captain Dean Hammond to a red card to earn a 1-1 point against Reading at the Madejksi Stadium but saw their lead at the top cut to three points



After the Reading draw, the Saints went onto win their next four games including a crushing 3-0 defeat of fellow promoted side Brighton thanks to a hat-trick from Rickie Lambert who took his tally for the season to fourteen goals as they extended their 100% home record and winning run at St Marys to a remarkable 20 games



Goals from Albert Adomah and Nicky Maynard gave Derek McInnes' Bristol City a vital 2-0 win on 26th November as Southampton lost for the first time in all competitions in two months



December didn't start off well for the Saints after a surprise loss at relegation threatened Doncaster and it didn't get much better as their 100% winning start to the season came to an end with a 2-2 draw against Premier League relegation victims Blackpool



The Saints went into the first South Coast derby of the campaign against Portsmouth top of the Championship on goal difference only but left Fratton Park with just a point as Joel Ward headed in a scrappy equaliser for the hosts in the second half



Southampton's 23-game unbeaten run at St Marys ended in their final game of 2011 as Bristol City completed an unlikely double over the Saints as Stephen Pearson netted the only goal of the game however they entered 2012 two points clear at the top due to Middlesbrough and West Ham failing to win their New Years Eve games



2012 started in disastrous fashion for Nigel Adkins's men as they lost consecutive games for the first time this term after their heaviest defeat of the season in a 3-0 reverse at Brighton which saw top goalscorer Rickie Lambert (pictured above left) sent off for violent conduct



On 23rd January, the South coast club dropped to second position in the Championship table for the first time since September after successive home losses culminating in a 2-0 defeat by Leicester City as defender Matthew Mills (pictured above) scores the Foxes second goal



At a snowy St Andrews a week later following a 1-1 draw with Cardiff, Nigel Adkins's men escaped with a point after a goalless draw with Birmingham City after full-back Danny Fox was dismissed for a second bookable offence which left them four points behind top of the table West Ham United



In a top of the table clash with West Ham at Upton Park on Valentine's Day, Southampton snatched a point against the ten-man Hammers as Jos Hooiveld, who scored the winner in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, equalised with fifteen minutes left to cut the gap to one point at the Championship summit



The Saints put together a seven-match unbeaten sequence as Rickie Lambert fired past Andy Lonergan in a 1-0 win over Leeds United at Elland Road as they overtook Sam Allardyce's West Ham at the top of the league and extended their lead in first place to four points



In a topsy-turvy game, Southampton came away with a priceless 3-2 victory over Millwall at the New Den as top goalscorer Rickie Lambert struck twice in the final five minutes to swing the match in their favour and made it ten games unbeaten for the Saints whilst adding to their lead at the top of the Championship in March



The Championship title race was blown wide open once more on 31st March as Blackpool swept aside Southampton, without the injured Rickie Lambert, at Bloomfield Road with loanee Stephen Dobbie twice on the scoresheet as the Saints' lead at the top was cut to two points after Reading's 3-1 win at West Ham



David Norris equalises late on for relegation threatened Portsmouth in an enthralling and goal-filled South Coast derby as Southampton managed a 2-2 home draw but remained top of the table on goal difference



On Friday 13th April, Reading all but confirmed their own place in next season's Premier League to go three points clear at the top of the Championship with an important 3-1 win at a jam packed St Marys as Southampton dropped crucial points in the promotion race in a match dubbed as a season decider



Southampton missed out on their final opportunity to win the Championship title as they succumbed to a 2-1 loss at Middlesbrough, whose slim play-off hopes were kept alive, meaning Reading were crowned champions in the penultimate round of league fixtures as Marouane Zemmama curled in a beautiful winner from a free-kick



The Saints secured Premier League promotion for the first time in seven years as they battered already-relegated Coventry City 4-0 at St Marys on the final day of the Championship season finishing as runners-up- one point behind Reading and two points clear of third-placed West Ham


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