Appy’s not happy as Blues pay penalty

Pompey defender Ricardo Rocha protests with the referee after Jamie Ward was brought down in the box
Pompey defender Ricardo Rocha protests with the referee after Jamie Ward was brought down in the box
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Michael Appleton reflected on a ‘controversial’ end to life in the Championship after Pompey’s relegation was confirmed.

The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat to Derby at Fratton Park on Saturday,

That scoreline rendered Bristol City’s 2-0 triumph over Barnsley irrelevant, with Coventry also relegated after slipping to a loss at the hands of Doncaster Rovers.

For Appleton, Saturday’s defeat was harsh on his side.

The Pompey manager felt his side had done enough to win the contest – especially after Luke Varney’s 74th minute equaliser had cancelled out Jake Buxton’s first-half opener.

Yet four minutes later, Steve Davies claimed the points from a debatable penalty.

That was after Jamie Ward tumbled under a challenge from Jason Pearce.

And afterwards Appleton admitted it was a galling way to end a day which resulted in relegation to League One.

He said: ‘The most important thing is we wanted to win the game and I certainly think we did enough in the game not to lose it.

‘Looking back at the amount of times we hit the woodwork and some clear opportunities, I think we probably did enough to win it, to be honest.

‘That was also a little bit of a controversial way to lose the game.

‘Once Varns scored the goal, probably, most people would have backed us to go on and win the game.

‘It didn’t happen that way, though.

‘The penalty looked very, very soft and he (Ward) was on his way down very quickly.

‘It’s a topic of conversation up and down the country right at the minute.

‘It’s disappointing from my point of view because he shouldn’t have even been in that position in the first place.

‘We’ve had four opportunities to clear the ball.

‘One was from the first corner, another from the second corner.

‘Ricardo (Rocha) had the opportunity to clear it down the field and then we’ve had two players run into each other.

‘We probably deserved to concede a goal if not a penalty.

‘I fully expected Bristol City to take care of Barnsley – but it would have been nice to end the season at home with a win.’

Pompey now find themselves in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1983.

That is providing they can unearth a new owner before the end of May, when administrator Trevor Birch insists current funding will run out.

Regardless, Appleton is already planning ahead for next season and a future which includes him remaining as the Fratton Park boss.

He added: ‘I want to make sure I have an opportunity first and foremost.

‘I want to be able to have the tools to do the job properly and I want to be able to work on a level playing field in the division we are going to be in.

‘I have been planning at the back of my mind for life in League One.

‘I think it would have been stupid of me not to, really.

‘I am professional enough to prepare for the games day in, day out and make sure that is right – but you have always got to prepare in advance for different scenarios and that has always been the case over the past couple of months.’