Appy: Chuck’s leveller could make all the difference

Pompey manager Michael Appleton and Southampton boss Nigel Adkins, right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121221-197)
Pompey manager Michael Appleton and Southampton boss Nigel Adkins, right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121221-197)
Matt Clarke. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gaffer: Pompey defender needs to return to centre-back

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Michael Appleton believes David Norris’ last-gasp wonder strike could yet be the catalyst for Championship survival.

The Blues midfielder lashed home a glorious volley deep into injury time to snatch a 2-2 derby draw at Southampton on Saturday.

His goal came moments after Pompey appeared to have been condemned to late heartbreak.

Billy Sharp’s opener was cancelled out by Chris Maguire’s angled piledriver, only for Sharp to net again with just seconds left on the clock.

Norris gave Pompey a glimmer of hope of beating the drop, though, when he rifled his leveller home. While it was only a draw against the Blues’ biggest rivals, Appleton insisted it felt like a win.

And he reckons it could be a pivotal moment in the club’s battle to avoid relegation.

The Pompey boss said: ‘It could be a vital point looking towards the rest of the season and it could give us that momentum we need.

‘Moments like that can change games and even change a season.

‘We all saw what it meant to the players, staff and the supporters.

‘We still have five games and 15 points to play for, so it could make all the difference.

‘To come back a second time the way we did felt like we’d won the game rather than drawn it.

‘Sometimes people can get a bit cheesy and go over the top but I was really proud to be the club’s manager.

‘I was delighted with the players, really happy for the supporters and I had a smile on my face for a few hours after the final whistle.’

Pompey’s bid to remain in the Championship continues tomorrow evening with a home clash against Millwall.

And Appleton has warned the focus has to switch quickly if the Blues are to pick up a vital win over their fellow strugglers.

‘It’s important we enjoyed that one for a few hours and then concentrate on Millwall,’ he said.

‘It’s a point and a great result away from home at our biggest rivals but we’ve got an even bigger game on Tuesday, with all due respect to everyone at Southampton.

‘It’s one we need to win and hopefully the Fratton faithful will get behind us.

‘We’ve been quite good on Tuesday evenings over the past few weeks and hopefully that will continue.’

Appleton’s belief is clearly echoed by his players, who showed remarkable character to steal a point after Sharp’s late body blow.

He added: ‘It showed real character to come back from that.

‘It would have been unjust to lose the game like that – a draw was the very least we deserved.

‘It was an incredible game and one we were delighted to get something from.

‘We conceded a late goal under controversial circumstances at the time as the referee overruled the linesman but I saw the replay and it was the right decision.’