Appy: No need to panic

26/12/2011 (SPORT) POMPEY_MILLWALL''Portsmouth FC v Millwall FC match took place on the 26th December 2011 at Millwall FC.''Pictured is: (left) Portsmouth FC's Liam Lawrence and Millwall FC's John Marquis during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (114474-7669)
26/12/2011 (SPORT) POMPEY_MILLWALL''Portsmouth FC v Millwall FC match took place on the 26th December 2011 at Millwall FC.''Pictured is: (left) Portsmouth FC's Liam Lawrence and Millwall FC's John Marquis during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (114474-7669)
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Goal-shy Pompey have officially now taken on the title of shot-shy.

But boss Michael Appleton is refusing to panic.

The Blues have mustered just nine goals from their past nine games.

Their latest blank at Millwall on Boxing Day ensured only Coventry have scored fewer away goals this season.

That is a Coventry side who currently prop up the rest competing in the Championship.

At The Den on Monday, David Norris was responsible for Pompey’s only shot on target.

Any Blues fan arriving after three minutes would not have seen Lions keeper Steve Mildenhall troubled for the remainder of the match.

There was plenty to enthuse about regarding excellent build-up play and attractive use of possession, particularly during the first half.

But there remained no cutting edge, no conclusive final delivery, no shots.

Goal-scoring has been a long-standing headache this season, regardless of the manger in charge.

For Appleton, though, there is no reason to sound the alarm bells just yet.

And he remains relaxed that the goals will soon start to flow.

He said: ‘We just lack a killer touch at the minute.

‘There are a few of the boys desperate for a goal. They need a goal and (against Millwall) that final pass at times, especially in the first half, was just missing.

‘But it will come.

‘The surface wasn’t great and we will go to Leicester on a better surface against a good side.

‘If we continue the form, because there is nothing wrong with that form, we will be fine.

‘In terms of goals, though, I think you’ve got to be patient and keep believing in your players.

‘From our point of view, on the training ground you keep putting them in situations and keep recreating situations that, hopefully, will pan out in the game.

‘It is dealing a lot with the attacking work and working around the edge of the box and, hopefully, getting them repeating that feeling of putting the ball into the back of the net.

‘Against Millwall, it is one of those where we got caught a little bit short, really.

‘There were times we could have passed it and were short.

‘There were times we could have crossed and looked to get an extra pass.

‘The actual build-up was really good at times. It was a big contrast from last week against Southampton.

‘But the goals will come.’

While Norris had Pompey’s sole attempt on target against Millwall, Liam Lawrence wasted their best opportunity.

The skipper somehow sent a free header from eight yards out well wide of the target after Erik Huseklepp’s fine cross from the left.

That first-half effort had Lawrence putting his head in his hands in horror.

Appleton’s men failed to carve out another goal-scoring chance after that, much to their embarrassment.

And the Pompey manager believes a fully match-sharp Lawrence may have finished that move off.

Appleton added: ‘Possibly, Liam would have scored if the sharpness was there.

‘He was kicking himself at half-time but these things happen – that’s part of coming back from an injury like he’s had.

‘From Liam’s point of view, we are just delighted we’ve got him on the pitch for 90 minutes.

‘He got 64 minutes against Southampton, so 90 minutes under his belt against Millwall will have done him the world of good.

‘His sharpness will come back game after game.

‘I’ve told the players we have got to learn from defeats and take it on the chin and be brave.

‘They need to come out fighting the next time they play and keep the belief.’