Pompey new-boy Walkes marvels at Fratton faithful

Anton Walkes scored against Doncaster on his Pompey debut. Picture: Joe Pepler
Anton Walkes scored against Doncaster on his Pompey debut. Picture: Joe Pepler
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ANTON WALKES surveyed an against-the-odds draw and marvelled: The Fratton character was incredible.

Fans and players united in a nervy finale against Doncaster to haul the team over the line and secure a 2-2 outcome.

If we can play under that pressure in a normal game with 11 players on the pitch, we should be able to perform a lot better

Anton Walkes

Kenny Jackett’s men finished the Fratton Park encounter with nine men, including Kal Naismith serving as goalkeeper.

Yet having twice come from behind against Rovers, the supporters then roared them on to claim an improbable point.

Walkes had earlier netted on his Blues bow following a loan arrival from Spurs earlier in the week.

And the right-back was stunned at witnessing the character demonstrated by his team-mates and also the Fratton faithful.

He said: ‘The fans were unbelievable.

‘It was good to see so many people cheering you on consistently for the whole of the game.

‘We played an extra seven minutes and it would have been easy for the crowd to die out – but they stuck with us.

‘Nobody left early and that’s what we need.

‘With the team too, you could see great character. Unfortunately we didn’t get the three points, but it’s a starting place and we can push on from here.

‘As happens over the course of the season, there are times when you have to dig in as a team, stay tight and compact and fight.

‘We lost two men and still managed to get the draw.

‘When you look at the circumstances, it was a good point. You would see a lot of teams conceding one or two goals with that amount of pressure – not us.

‘If we can play under that pressure in a normal game with 11 players on the pitch, we should be able to perform a lot better.’

Walkes and fellow loanee Stephen Henderson were handed debuts.

Yet the Blues fell behind after only four minutes when James Coppinger squeezed a shot under Nathan Thompson, Christian Burgess and Henderson.

Walkes then poked home Gareth Evans’ corner for the equaliser on 19 minutes.

In the second half, John Marquis netted for Rovers, before Brett Pitman equalised.

Then Henderson was forced off injured with no substitutes to replace him, while Burgess was dismissed in stoppage time.

Walkes added: ‘I was in the right place, at the right time to score.

‘I was lucky enough to get my head on the ball to start off with, then Clarkie and myself reacted quickly and I got there first.

‘It was announced the goalscorer was him, and I was a bit surprised, but the ball hit the back of the net and that’s all that matters.

‘It wasn’t enough for us to win the game, but you are always going to remember things such as scoring on your debut.

‘Hopefully I can get more goals and rack up a few assists to help push us up the league.’