Saints stay top as Adkins identifies transfer targets


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The Independent Football

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins refused to rest on his laurels after his league-leading side's 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at St Mary's yesterday, stressing the need to bring in additional players to enhance his team's promotion push.

Guly do Prado headed home either side of half-time to extend Saints' unbeaten run at home to an impressive 24 league games. Adkins praised his team's "good spirit", but still saw room for improvement.

"This squad of players has led the Championship for more than three months now, having played some really exceptional football," Adkins said.

"In the summer, a lot of people were expecting us to bring in a lot of players, but we only brought a couple in.

"The transfer window does open up on 1 January. There will be mass speculation and we will probably get linked with loads and loads of players.

"Our endeavour will be to enhance the squad we have got but we have an exceptionally good team spirit, which has been demonstrated again today. We dominated the first half and the second we started brightly. A good second goal from Do Prado saw the game out quite comfortably. I am pleased we kept a clean sheet."

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 34th minute. Daniel de Ridder darted down the right flank and, having spun Peter Ramage, crossed for Do Prado to head in. And the Brazilian doubled his and Saints' tally when he converted Frazer Richardson's cross with 13 minutes left.

Elsewhere, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce rued his side's missed opportunities after they drew 1-1 at Birmingham. "It was all about us missing too many chances in the first half," said Allardyce, after David Murphy levelled Carlton Cole's early goal for West Ham with nine minutes to go at St Andrew's. "We didn't capitalise upon what was a great first half performance."

West Ham are still second in the table but level on points with Middlesbrough after Tony Mowbray's side won 1-0 at home to in-form Hull. Mowbray praised Barry Robson for his late 30-yard drive which broke the deadlock at the Riverside. Mowbray said: "[He's] played in three different positions and done well in all of them then pops up with a strike like that."

The Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, played down suggestions he is feeling the pressure from chairman Ken Bates' promotion demands after seeing his side's mini-slump continue with a 1-0 defeat at Derby. A poor run of three games without a win, the latest of which came at Pride Park courtesy of Jamie Ward's goal, has dampened their prospects of automatic promotion. Grayson said. "[There is] always pressure as manager of Leeds and expectancy from everybody. I put pressure on myself. I know what's required because it means a lot to me and I'll be doing my best to get us to kick on."

Sean Dyche, the Watford manager, rued a costly error by goalkeeper Scott Loach, whose mistake handed Cardiff a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road. Watford were heading for victory with Prince Buaben's second-half effort. But Cardiff levelled when Loach came for a long throw only to be left stranded as Adrian Mariappa's back header went into his own net. Dyche said: "A lack of communication is how a game can change."

Blackpool beat Barnsley 3-1, winger Matt Phillips hitting a hat-trick, while George Boyd's strike against former club Nottingham Forest earned Peterborough a 1-0 win at the City Ground. Forest have gone over nine hours without scoring.