Pompey boss salutes new-found ‘mentality’

Referee David Phillips shows substitute Luke Rodgers a yellow card late in the second half ' one of six Pompey bookings on the day
Referee David Phillips shows substitute Luke Rodgers a yellow card late in the second half ' one of six Pompey bookings on the day

Michael Appleton believes his side are improving ‘mentally’ following their victory over Crewe.

Strikers Wes Thomas and Izale McLeod both netted in Saturday’s comfortable 2-0 win.

The result made it 10 points from Pompey’s past four league matches, lifting them into 12th in League One.

And for Appleton it reflects the strides he feels his side is making after their slow start to the campaign.

He said: ‘I daren’t say we have turned a corner – but we are definitely improving.

‘We are improving from a mental point of view.

‘I have mentioned before about dealing with the expectations that goes with Portsmouth in League One and I thought they did that really well on Saturday.

‘I thought we controlled the second half.

‘Yes, Crewe had a lot of possession, but we knew that was going to happen anyway.

‘Everything was in front of us, we were 2-0 up so did we have to go and chase it? No.

‘If it was 0-0 and we had to force the issue then, obviously, it would have been different and we would have got after the players a bit.

‘But we spoke at half-time about letting them come on to us and then hitting them on the counter-attack.

‘We have a game plan for every match we go into and it worked a treat.

‘I expected a response after the Wycombe game and we got that.’

Meanwhile, Appleton has criticised the amount of bookings his side picked up in the match.

Referee David Phillips brandished six yellow cards to the hosts in an over-zealous display.

Jon Harley, Lubomir Michalik, Brian Howard, Akos Buzsaky, McLeod and Luke Rodgers all had their names taken by the West Sussex official.

Pompey now face a club fine – something they can ill-afford.

In contrast, Kelvin Mellor was the sole Crewe player booked.

And afterwards Appleton was not happy with the performance of Phillips.

He added: ‘I literally cannot remember a serious tackle.

‘Even the one where the lad has gone off injured, Brian (Howard) won the ball cleanly. I was a little bit bemused by it.

‘It was confusing why we could have so many bookings and Crewe had one.’

– NEIL ALLEN