Pompey boss rues lack of threat

Pompey manager Michael Appleton
Pompey manager Michael Appleton
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Michael Appleton was left bemoaning Pompey’s poor second-half showing after being undone by a late Birmingham goal.

The visitors appeared to be heading for an impressive St Andrew’s point last night.

Despite being put under severe pressure from Chris Hughton’s promotion-chasing side after the break, Pompey stood firm with a resilient and gutsy display.

That was until substitute Nathan Redmond’s sweet 86th-minute strike.

For Appleton, that goal capped a desperately disappointing second 45 minutes from his team.

It was in contrast to such an encouraging opening half against a Birmingham side yet to lose at home in the league this season. And the Blues boss admitted the second-half lapse cost his team dearly.

He said: ‘I was delighted with the first-half performance.

‘We kept our shape really well and limited Birmingham to very few chances.

‘In fact, the half chances they got were from our own poor play at times.

‘I felt we looked a threat and had a couple of decent opportunities before the end of the first half which we could have been a little bit more clinical with.

‘But in the second half I just didn’t think we did enough.

‘When we had possession of the ball we never really threatened in behind them. Everything was played in front of them.

‘Ultimately we paid the price because what tended to happen was we allowed them to put balls into the box.

‘At times they weren’t particularly fantastic balls but when they keep coming in, all it takes is a lapse in concentration – and that’s what probably cost us in the end.

‘We never really competed with the first one and didn’t get bodies around to cover for the second one – and the lad scored.’

Pompey’s players shrugged off their wage problems to once again demonstrate their commitment to the club.

There is still no sign of January’s pay arriving for them or the rest of the staff at Fratton Park.

Regardless, Appleton was proud of how his team maintained their focus on the football pitch last night.

He added: ‘I wouldn’t expect anything more of them.

‘They are a decent bunch of lads. They’ve had to take a lot of hits over the past couple of months or so, especially over the past week and not being paid, so I can’t really ask any more from the effort.

‘The result is probably going to hurt for a couple of days, as you can imagine.

‘Birmingham are riding high at the minute, have seven wins out of eight and we knew it was going to be a tough game.

‘With them unbeaten at home, we were under no illusions how difficult the game was going to be.

‘But I just felt we could have helped ourselves a little bit better in the second half by being a little bit cuter.

‘When you are under pressure at times you have to go and turn the opposition and get them going towards their own goal – and we tended to just keep our passing a little bit too short.’