Date: 21st November 2011 at 7:11pm
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Rickie Lambert’s second-half hat-trick ensured the Saints remain five points clear at the top of the Championship.

Lambert, who had not scored for just over a month – ended his goal drought with a superb hat-trick in front of a packed St. Mary’s.

The league leaders comfortably controlled the game from start to finish and, in the end, it was a convincing 3-0 win for Nigel Adkins’ men.

They must be putting something in the water in the home dressing room at St. Mary’s. Saturday’s win was their 20th consecutive home win and the loyal supporters will be pinching themselves, seeing their five points clear of West Ham.

Southampton and Brighton have built up a new rivalry since they both gained promotion last season – and the fact that the Saints ended Brighton’s unbeaten home run last season made this tie even more exciting as the Seagulls had hopes they could do the same to Southampton.

However, from the start, you could see that it was the home side that were top of the table – and that the visitors were struggling, having only won once in ten league games.

The first half was quiet in terms of goal scoring chances – but the Saints had two penalty shouts, firstly when Guly do Prado was brought down in the box, and then Lambert felt he was fouled in the box.

But after the break, it only took the Southampton goal machine four minutes to fire his side into the lead.

Right-back Frazer Richardson delivered a beautiful left-footed cross which was powerfully headed home by Lambert to score his 12th goal of the season.

And nine minutes later Lambert had doubled his tally for the afternoon. Jose Fonte was thought to be brought down in the area – but replays confirmed that the defender was just outside the box.

Outraged by the decision – 38-year-old assistant manager Mauricio Taricco was shown a straight red card as he displayed his anger.

Brighton were down to 10 men and with Lambert smashing home his second of the game – it seemed an impossible task for the Seagulls to leave St. Mary’s with anything.

And things got worse for Gus Poyet’s men when Lambert converted his second penalty of the afternoon – and his 14th of the season to send a clear message to the rest of the league.