Che Adams inspired Southampton to a 2-1 victory over fellow Sky Bet Championship promotion chasers Coventry – who missed a penalty.

Striker Adams claimed Saints’ opener after he had deflected in Kyle Walker-Peters’ blast before more decisively bagging a second – both after Haji Wright had missed a spot-kick for the visitors.

Jake Bidwell ended his year-long run without a goal to pull one back, but the hosts held on.

Southampton boss Russell Martin has all but waved the white flag on automatic promotion after two draws and a defeat since the international break and his side currently sit nine points behind the top two with six matches to play.

Coventry fall five points outside of the play-off places as they attempt to make up for their Wembley heartbreak last season.

The Sky Blues had won their previous two away games and since December 23, they had the most wins on the road in the Championship.

It was no surprise then when they started quickly and won a penalty inside 10 minutes when Flynn Downes fouled the underlapping Joel Latibeaudiere.

Wright stepped up, aiming to bag his fifth goal in his last four away games, but slipped on approach. His shot came back off the crossbar but would have most likely been disallowed anyway for a double contact.

It woke Saints up and after having a penalty of their own turned down, they went ahead in the 18th minute. Walker-Peters struck from 25 yards before it bounced off Adams’ back to beat Bradley Collins, with both claiming the goal.

There was no debate over the scorer of the hosts’ second 20 minutes later as Adams bundled in from a corner.

After David Brooks had been denied one-on-one, James Bree had drifted his delivery from the resulting set-piece to find Taylor Harwood-Bellis at the back post. He nodded to Adams who beat his defender by dribbling the ball on his head before thumping home.

Adam Armstrong almost added a third 90 seconds into the second half but Collins pushed his rasping shot wide.

Coventry had to wait almost an hour between shots and Callum O’Hare’s attempt to place one in the top corner from the edge of a crowded box failed to halve the deficit.

Substitute Fabio Tavares went closer when his crashing strike was deflected onto the roof of the goal.

Their perseverance finally paid dividends as Tavares’ sumptuous delivery from the right was side-footed on the volley at the back post by Bidwell – his first goal since January 2023 – but there was not to be an equaliser.

Russell Martin acknowledged automatic promotion is now likely beyond Southampton after his side’s toothless display at Blackburn saw them stumble to a scoreless draw.

Having fought for a top-two finish in the Championship for much of the season, Saints’ profligacy in front of goal proved costly in the last-gasp Good Friday draw with Middlesbrough and even later loss to Ipswich on Easter Monday.

Those frustrating results were compounded by a lack of attacking spark on Saturday at Ewood Park, where fourth-placed Southampton created little against well-drilled Blackburn in a forgettable 0-0 draw.

“I was positive about the way we defended, about the clean sheet,” Saints manager Martin said.

“We’ve looked so dangerous and creative going forward recently but conceded too many goals, so we did a lot of work on that side of game.

“(I’m) pleased with that side of the game, pleased with the aggression in the team on that side of the game because it was a tough game and big credit to Blackburn.

“They’re fighting with everything they have but I’m really disappointed with the side we have been so good at recently, the creativity, the attacking flow. It wasn’t there today at all.”

Southampton’s inability to win in Lancashire further dented their hopes of automatic promotion, leaving them 12 points behind second-placed Ipswich with seven league games to go.

That run includes trips to Leicester and Leeds, with Martin looking for Saints to build momentum and peak again for the play-offs as they seek an immediate Premier League return.

“The guys still have a brilliant chance to get as many points as possible, so we can all look at each other at the end of the season and go ‘well, we did our bit, it just wasn’t to be this season’,” he said.

“We don’t deserve, none of them deserve, for the season just to finish flatly ahead of what is looking likely to be the play-offs.

“I think it’s really important we build some momentum and we go into it feeling good about ourselves, with a spring in our step and energy, and then the rest will take care of itself I’m sure.”

Saturday’s point was important for Blackburn, who dug deep having started the week with a fantastic 5-1 win at Sunderland.

The result edges John Eustace’s outfit closer to Championship survival, with Callum Brittain producing a key block to deny Kyle Walker-Peters with 10 minutes remaining.

“I thought it was an excellent game, really exciting game, good Championship game,” the Rovers boss said. “Two good teams going at it.

“I was really proud of the boys’ efforts. I thought we were outstanding with and without the ball, just disappointed that we couldn’t be a little bit more clinical in the final third.

“I think that’s the first time Southampton haven’t scored for 30 odd games, so that’s something very pleasing. It’s all the work that the boys are putting in on the training field.

“We were disappointed not to get a clean sheet on Monday but the boys have thrown their bodies on the line.

“Today, you could see that, you could see the commitment of the whole squad, the togetherness of the whole squad, which is vital at this stage of the season.”

Southampton manager Russell Martin still wants more from his promotion-chasing Saints despite extending their unbeaten run to 10 games with a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

Kyle Walker-Peters scored a second-half belter to give Saints a fourth victory in their last five, which included their first home clean sheet since March.

But despite keeping pace at the top of the Sky Bet Championship, Martin thinks there is still plenty more to come from his side.

“It can’t just be lucky for 10 games,” said Martin. “One game, two games even four games you can be a bit lucky but 10 games isn’t lucky.

“I am happy, I might not seem it as you always want more, but I am happy.

“We had two scary moments but were dominant without having any purpose with the ball but the second half was amazing.

“We just need to score more goals and we should have done tonight.

“I know the expectation here is to win and beat everyone by four goals, I want to as well, and tonight if we get a second then the game changes completely but we can’t do that at the moment for one reason or another.

“It took a brilliant goal to win but it shouldn’t have to, we should have scored more.”

Saints squandered several chances in the first half, and were indebted to their keeper Gavin Bazunu for two sensational moments.

Firstly, the Ireland keeper brilliantly clawed Mark Sykes’ close-range header off the line before quickly coming off his line and diving at the feet of Tommy Conway in a one-versus-one.

Saints scored 109 seconds in the second half to settle the match.

Adam Armstrong looked like he had run down a cul-de-sac but wriggled back down the right side of the box to find Walker-Peters.

The right-back took the ball inside before curling into the top corner with his left foot for his second goal of the season.

Liam Manning lost for the first time since replacing Nigel Pearson as Bristol City boss.

Manning said: “I thought in the first half the game plan worked and we frustrated them while still playing. We created some terrific opportunities and we needed to take them.

“It was a poor start to the second half, with in two minutes the ball in in our net.

“We’ll lose games but I can’t complain about my players. They gave everything.

“Momentum is big in football. We knew first five minutes they would come out and have a right go and we needed to see through that phase.

“We have lost to a moment of high quality so there are mixed emotions for me at the moment.”

Kyle Walker-Peters’ stunning strike sent promotion-chasing Southampton to a 1-0 victory over Bristol City and extended their unbeaten Sky Bet Championship run to 10 matches.

Right-back Walker-Peters rifled in the winner from the edge of the box just after half-time.

It condemned Robins boss Liam Manning to his first defeat since replacing Nigel Pearson and saw Saints keep their first home clean sheet since March 4 – thanks partly to two stunning pieces of keeping from Gavin Bazunu.

Southampton spent the majority of the first half attempting to break down two well-disciplined banks of City players.

But found a few moments to warm a heavy-coat-clad St Mary’s crowd.

Kamaldeen Sulemana was the biggest threat with his burst of pace down the left but his finish in the seventh minute lacked the ferocity to beat goalkeeper Max O’Leary.

Top scorer Adam Armstrong had a shot blocked before curling over, while Tommy Conway headed over when unmarked at a corner at the other end.

The first time O’Leary was tested wasn’t until the 28th minute when Stuart Armstrong skidded a powerful shot at him. The initial effort was fumbled but the keeper quickly gathered.

City, who had mainly threatened on the break, had the best two chances of the first half but found Bazunu at his best in the Saints goal.

Firstly, the Ireland keeper brilliantly clawed Mark Sykes’ close-range header off the line before quickly coming off his line and diving at the feet of Conway in a one-versus-one.

Che Adams sliced a shot wide for the misfiring hosts but the fans saved their half-time ire for referee Keith Stroud having felt unfavoured by his decisions.

Saints have gathered a reputation of being slow after the interval but bucked that trend by scoring 109 seconds into the second half.

Adam Armstrong looked like he had run down a cul-de-sac but wriggled back down the right side of the box to find Walker-Peters. The right-back took the ball inside before curling into the top corner with his left foot for his second goal of the season.

Saints pushed for a second. Adam Armstrong bullied his way to a chance in the City box before Carlos Alcaraz bent wide in the 59th minute.

The same two attackers caused issues again seven minutes later, with O’Leary twice getting down low to keep his side in the match.

City thought they should have been awarded a penalty late on but Stroud disagreed that Taylor Harwood-Bellis had handled when sliding to block a cross.

Kyle Walker-Peters believes instability caused by an influx of new signings contributed significantly to relegated Southampton’s season of struggle.

Saints have spent the majority of a dismal campaign in the Premier League drop zone and were finally condemned to the Sky Bet Championship by Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Fulham.

The division’s bottom side recruited 15 players across the last two transfer windows, while current boss Ruben Selles is the third man in charge this term following the sackings of Ralph Hasenhuttl and Nathan Jones.

England defender Walker-Peters admits individuals have under-performed but feels background upheaval has not helped the club’s predicament.

“No it hasn’t,” said the 26-year-old. “Being 100 per cent honest, that has been really tough for everyone.

“When I first came here it was a smaller squad, a tight-knit squad and sometimes when there is a lot of change it makes things hard.

“On the pitch we haven’t been good enough, we haven’t done our jobs well enough and ultimately that is why we’re getting relegated.”

Defeat to the Cottagers was Southampton’s 24th in the top flight during a dismal season which has brought just six wins and only 31 goals, with 66 conceded.

Victories over Chelsea and Leicester in Selles’ first three games after replacing Jones sparked hope of survival but were followed by a paltry three points from the next 33 available.

“We haven’t scored enough goals, we haven’t stopped enough goals and ultimately if you’re not good enough in both boxes then it’s hard to win games,” said Walker-Peters.

“That has been the story of our season.”

Dropping into the Championship is likely to spark a player exodus at St Mary’s, with Walker-Peters one of those expected to attract interest.

The full-back, who made his international debut last year, was tight-lipped about his own future ahead of matches against Brighton and Liverpool.

He anticipates the club will attempt to build around the raft of young talent they are able to retain as they prepare for life in the second tier.

“There are still two more games so that is my main focus – try and make those results positive and see what happens after there,” he said.

“I’m not looking too much into my future yet.

“I always see myself in a Southampton shirt, I love the club. I enjoy being here so we’ll see what happens.”

Asked how the club bounce back, he replied: “It is not for me to say, the club have their own ideas and they will want to bounce back asap.

“They’ll try and keep everyone they can and everyone they want to keep and try and bounce back from there.”

Fulham require three points from games against Crystal Palace and Manchester United to surpass the club’s record Premier League tally of 53 following success on the south coast.

Cottagers midfielder Harrison Reed, who began his career at Southampton, said: “That is massive for us as a group of players and the staff.

“That is what we are aiming for, and pushing each day to achieve that.

“We have planned this season and we have put our stamp on it from the first game really.

“It’s nice to be in the position we are, winning games of football and with the fans behind us.”

Asked about his former club, Reed, who suffered relegation with Fulham in 2021, said: “It’s been a tough season. We’ve been there.

“You need to get your head down and focus and win some football matches next year and I am sure they will come back stronger.”

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