Appleton points to ‘perfect’ south coast derby response

Pompey manager Michael Appleton
Pompey manager Michael Appleton
Conor Chaplin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton has branded the south coast derby as the ‘perfect’ Pompey fixture following their Burnley humbling.

The Blues head to St Mary’s on Saturday on the back of last weekend’s dismal 5-1 Fratton Park defeat.

An embarrassing second-half capitulation prompted some home fans to boo their side off the pitch at the final whistle, as Pompey’s Championship survival hopes received a massive body blow.

Southampton themselves suffered a 3-0 loss at Blackpool on the same day.

Yet they remain clear at the top of the table as Nigel Adkins’ side close in on promotion to the Premier League.

Appleton, though, is unconcerned by any aftershocks from that Burnley hammering.

And he is adamant Southampton represents the ideal match to bounce back.

He said: ‘I don’t think the (Burnley) hiding will affect us any more than a defeat would have.

‘It would have been just as disappointing losing the game 2-1, trust me.

‘The fact it was 5-1 doesn’t look good. It looks as though you have had a thumping, but the truth is it wasn’t really.

‘We just lost a bit of discipline once that second goal went in.

‘I would have been probably just as angry and frustrated at losing 2-1, especially after putting in the performance we did in that first half.

‘Having said that, I can’t think of a better game to go and play on Saturday after what happened (against Burnley).

‘It’s probably the most perfect game to play.

‘Southampton are riding high at the top of the league and – for any other club apart from Portsmouth – it is most likely the worst place to go after you have just been beaten 5-1 at home.

‘But the fact that it is Portsmouth Football Club going to Southampton, maybe it is a good thing.

‘There is more than three points riding on the result – there is personal pride, and with a lot of people in the area, if there is one game they want to win it is Southampton.’

Pompey’s last venture to St Mary’s was on February 13, 2010.

The subsequent 4-1 victory for Avram Grant’s men remains Southampton’s biggest home defeat in the past four-and-a-half years.

And regardless of the two teams’ contrasting league placings, Appleton believes his side can repeat such a feat.

‘People have written us off so many times that is a good thing from our point of view,’ he added.

‘It has happened over the last three or four weeks at different stages.

‘Losing at Coventry we were written off and we came back against Hull.

‘We were probably written off after the Bristol City game after not winning and before then we were pretty much written off anyway.

‘There is still an opportunity there and if you keep the belief all of a sudden things can change.

‘The good thing is they again know no-one’s position is safe in the team and that is always nice going into a derby, especially away from home.’