Rickie Lambert hit two goals to fire Southampton three points clear at the top of the Championship.

Lambert has now hit 87 goals in three years for the Saints and after spending his career in the lower divisions looks set for the top flight.

He opened the scoring before the break with a powerful header from Danny Butterfield's cross.

And he wrapped up the win with a low drive from 20 yards to bring up 30 goals for the season.

Saints under Adkins

Southampton have won 58 of the 94 games under Nigel Adkins, losing just 18

With four games to go Nigel Adkins's side are on the brink of back-to-back promotions.

By contrast Palace's season, which has included a run to the Carling Cup semi-finals, is fizzling out after a third straight defeat.

Lambert saw an early shot deflected wide and had a strike disallowed before he did find the net.

Palace old boy Butterfield crossed from the right, defender Paddy McCarthy missed it but Lambert did not, climbing above Nathaniel Clyne to bury his header past Julian Speroni.

Lambert made sure of the win when he was played in by Jack Cork, and after sidestepping McCarthy on the edge of the area he fired a low drive into the far corner.

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins: "I'm pleased with the whole group, although obviously Rickie Lambert scored two very good goals.

"We have played some really good football this season, we create opportunities and we need someone to put the ball in the net.

"He's a talented, talented football player and he's at a good place. Southampton has a great culture and is a great place for a player to become the best they can be.

"He's going from strength to strength and he's reaping rewards for his hard work this season."

"Rickie Lambert was the difference.

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman: "He has experience and if I was a betting man I'd say he'll produce a few goals in the Premier League.

"The first goal was against the run of play and was a bitter pill to swallow.

"But I'm very happy with our performance. We gave it a right good go with six youngsters against a top team."

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (5)

Crystal Palace

  • 01 Speroni
  • 02 Clyne
  • 05 McCarthy
  • 21 Moxey
  • 26 Parsons
  • 08 Dikgacoi
  • 16 Zaha Booked
  • 28 O'Keefe
  • 35 C Martin
  • 36 De Silva (Garvan - 61' )
  • 11 Scannell (Ambrose - 83' )

Substitutes

  • 34 Price
  • 42 Inniss
  • 07 Ambrose
  • 10 Garvan
  • 17 Murray

Southampton

  • 01 Davis
  • 06 Fonte
  • 12 Butterfield
  • 13 Fox (Harding - 73' )
  • 26 Hooiveld
  • 08 Cork
  • 14 Hammond
  • 18 Chaplow (De Ridder - 89' )
  • 20 Lallana
  • 07 Lambert (Guly - 77' )
  • 11 Sharp

Substitutes

  • 03 Harding
  • 16 Martin
  • 10 Guly
  • 33 De Ridder
  • 09 Barnard
Ref: Sutton
Att: 18,753

Match Stats

Shots

6 8

On target

4 3

Corners

7 7

Fouls

6 11

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:12 Full time

Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.

90:00 +3:50

Shot from 35 yards by Billy Sharp went wide right of the post.

90:00 +2:23

Short corner taken by Adam Lallana.

88:46 Substitution

Substitution Steve De Ridder replaces Richard Chaplow.

87:01

The offside flag is raised against Chris Martin. Indirect free kick taken by Kelvin Davis. Dean Moxey fouled by Richard Chaplow, the ref awards a free kick. Dean Moxey takes the direct free kick.

84:59

Jos Hooiveld gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Martin. Stuart O'Keefe takes the direct free kick.

84:08

Dan Harding concedes a free kick for a foul on Wilfried Zaha. Wilfried Zaha takes the direct free kick.

83:13

The ball is sent over by Danny Butterfield. Kagisho Dikgacoi fouled by Guly Do Prado, the ref awards a free kick. Dean Moxey restarts play with the free kick.

82:16

Short corner worked by Adam Lallana.

82:16 Substitution

Substitution Darren Ambrose joins the action as a substitute, replacing Sean Scannell.

79:41

Jose Fonte takes a shot. Save made by Julian Speroni.

78:58

Corner taken by Adam Lallana.

78:09

Stuart O'Keefe fouled by Guly Do Prado, the ref awards a free kick. Dean Moxey takes the free kick.

75:30 Substitution

Substitution Richard Lambert leaves the field to be replaced by Guly Do Prado.

75:30

Jos Hooiveld gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wilfried Zaha. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Chris Martin.

71:51 Substitution

Substitution Dan Harding comes on in place of Daniel Fox.

71:51

Wilfried Zaha produces a cross.

65:43

The ball is swung over by Wilfried Zaha.

63:50

Shot by Richard Lambert went over the net.

62:39

Sean Scannell takes a shot. Save by Kelvin Davis. Short corner worked by Chris Martin.

59:55

Direct free kick taken by Danny Butterfield. Unfair challenge on Daniel Fox by Stuart O'Keefe results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Daniel Fox, save by Julian Speroni.

59:55 Substitution

Substitution (Crystal Palace) makes a substitution, with Owen Garvan coming on for Kyle De Silva.

59:55 Booking

Booking Wilfried Zaha is shown a yellow card.

59:41

Free kick awarded for a foul by Wilfried Zaha on Jack Cork.

57:17

Billy Sharp fouled by Patrick McCarthy, the ref awards a free kick. Kelvin Davis restarts play with the free kick.

55:12

Assist by Jack Cork.

55:12 Goal scored

Goal! - Richard Lambert - C Palace 0 - 2 Southamp'n Richard Lambert gets on the score sheet with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton.

50:53

Adam Lallana concedes a free kick for a foul on Nathaniel Clyne. Free kick taken by Patrick McCarthy.

48:51

Corner from left by-line taken by Adam Lallana.

48:16

Kagisho Dikgacoi takes a shot.

45:08

Richard Lambert fouled by Patrick McCarthy, the ref awards a free kick. Adam Lallana crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, Patrick McCarthy makes a clearance.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:00 +1:01 Half time

Half Time The half-time whistle blows.

45:00 +0:06

Effort on goal by Chris Martin from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.

42:46

Unfair challenge on Chris Martin by Jose Fonte results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Chris Martin, Danny Butterfield makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Chris Martin, Patrick McCarthy takes a shot. Kelvin Davis makes a save.

42:11

Dean Hammond has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the target.

38:46

Assist on the goal came from Danny Butterfield.

38:46 Goal scored

Goal! - Richard Lambert - C Palace 0 - 1 Southamp'n Richard Lambert finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton.

38:36

The ball is delivered by Danny Butterfield,

37:03

Kyle De Silva takes a shot. Save by Kelvin Davis. Short corner taken by Chris Martin.

36:04

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Chris Martin from the left by-line, clearance made by Dean Hammond.

34:31

Richard Lambert gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Dean Moxey. Julian Speroni takes the free kick.

30:45

Richard Lambert takes a shot. Blocked by Kagisho Dikgacoi. Corner taken by Adam Lallana, Patrick McCarthy makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox from the right by-line. The ball is crossed by Adam Lallana. Richard Lambert is ruled offside. Julian Speroni takes the indirect free kick.

29:53

Richard Chaplow delivers the ball, save by Julian Speroni.

26:43

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Chris Martin, Richard Lambert manages to make a clearance.

25:33

Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Butterfield on Wilfried Zaha. Free kick crossed by Chris Martin, save by Kelvin Davis.

25:10

Richard Lambert is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Patrick McCarthy.

23:54

The ball is swung over by Danny Butterfield.

21:52

Adam Lallana takes a inswinging corner. The ball is swung over by Daniel Fox, save made by Julian Speroni.

18:06

Dean Hammond is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Julian Speroni.

14:32

Free kick awarded for a foul by Nathaniel Clyne on Daniel Fox. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Adam Lallana from left wing, clearance made by Chris Martin.

11:01

Adam Lallana takes a shot and missed to the right of the target.

5:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Billy Sharp by Matthew Parsons. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Daniel Fox from right channel, Kagisho Dikgacoi makes a clearance.

3:09

Corner taken by Chris Martin from the right by-line to the near post, Kagisho Dikgacoi takes a shot. Kelvin Davis makes a save. Outswinging corner taken by Chris Martin from the right by-line.

1:38

Kagisho Dikgacoi fouled by Richard Lambert, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Patrick McCarthy.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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