Appy adamant Pompey can get ‘out of this mess’

Michael Appleton is refusing to give up on Pompey's survival fight
Michael Appleton is refusing to give up on Pompey's survival fight
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Michael Appleton shrugged off Pompey’s plummet to the foot of the table and insisted: We can get out of this mess.

The Blues made it seven matches without a win following a 1-0 loss at in-form Reading last night.

Coupled with Doncaster’s 2-1 victory at Steve Cotterill’s Nottingham Forest, the defeat condemned Appleton’s side to bottom spot in the Championship table.

It’s the first time Pompey have been in such a position since September 18, 2010.

And with 12 matches remaining, they face a massive fight to remain in the division.

Their plight has hardly been helped by a record of just two goals in their past seven matches, while they couldn’t muster an attempt on target against Reading.

But Blues boss Appleton is refusing to panic.

And he is convinced his team has the talent and mental toughness to pull through and stay in the Championship.

He said: ‘Truthfully, I am delighted with the way they played last night.

‘There was nothing in the game – there was one opportunity we got punished with.

‘Both goalkeepers never really had anything to do in the game, so obviously it was tight from that point of view and there was a lot of play in the middle third.

‘I asked the players to just give me absolutely everything and they applied themselves really well.

‘If they show that same application and we get a little bit of luck at the right time and show a little bit of belief in the final third, then I am convinced we have a chance.

‘Having spoken to them after the game, they are still convinced we still have got a chance.

‘The hardest thing to do in the game is score goals – that is why people pay millions of pounds for goalscorers. Even in the Championship, that’s why the teams at the top of the table have all got goalscorers.

‘We have to find and come up with a scenario that helps us with scoring goals and we will do.

‘There are 12 games left and we know exactly how many games we need to win to get us out of this mess.

‘There are more games left than games we need to win to get out of it.’

Last night marked Luke Varney’s first start in 15 matches following injury.

He was selected ahead of Hungarian under-21 international Marko Futacs, who dropped to the bench. Yet Varney was given little service to allow him to shine.

Pompey managed just three goal attempts – all coming in the second half and wide of the target.

But Appleton was pleased with many aspects of his team’s Madejski Stadium display.

He added: ‘I think it is quite evident at the minute we play some difficult styles of football.

‘Last night, in terms of the first half, I think we tried to play it forward too soon because we had Luke back in the team and he’s a threat in behind.

‘I thought in the second half they had better choices in the passing, got the ball into Scott Allan a lot more and looked a little bit more of a threat.

‘The one thing lacking at the minute is a little bit of belief in the final third and that comes when confidence isn’t as high as it probably should be.

‘At the minute, confidence is a difficult scenario for us because of where we are.’