Appy believes Robins result hasn’t ended hopes

Michael Appleton
Michael Appleton
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Michael Appleton is convinced failure to defeat Bristol City has not torpedoed Pompey’s survival hopes.

But the Blues boss believes tonight’s Birmingham visit now represents a must-win fixture.

Appleton’s men were held to a goalless draw by the Robins on Saturday.

Despite a storming second-half display, they failed to convert a glut of chances.

As a result, the Blues remain eight points adrift of safety, with 10 matches remaining.

Crucially for Appleton, their relegation rivals failed to take advantage.

Doncaster lost at home to Derby, while Coventry picked up at point at Watford.

Nottingham Forest didn’t play and Millwall were defeated after Southampton scored twice in the last five minutes.

They are results which Appleton believes cushions the blow of Saturday’s draw.

Now he’s seeking a triumph over Birmingham at Fratton Park tonight to kick-start their escape bid.

He said: ‘They are all must-win now.

‘The reason why is you don’t know what the teams in and around us are going to do.

‘If those sides had won their games at the weekend then life becomes really, really difficult.

‘If we’d lost the game it would have become really, really difficult.

‘Luckily, from our point of view, Coventry never took advantage and neither did Doncaster or Millwall.

‘We got away with a point on Saturday in terms of the actual result, but certainly not the performance.

‘In terms of our rivals, some might say Millwall have done enough and let’s not look beyond Bristol City and Nottingham Forest.

‘But I just think there’s a long time, especially with four games in that spell.

‘The likelihood is we are going to have to win more than half the games we have left, so we need to start that tonight against Birmingham.

‘We are going to be playing Doncaster, Coventry, Millwall and Forest over the next six weeks or so.

‘And between us, if we get draws, then the rest have got an opportunity to take advantage of that.’

Pompey have now failed to win in their past nine matches, scoring just twice.

It is indisputable relegation form from a side who were plunged into this mess following a 10-point deduction after going into administration.

Regardless, Appleton remains proud of how his side continues to fight away.

He added: ‘I just want to be competitive. I just want to take this as long and as far as we possibly can.

‘I want us to compete in every single minute of every game and then, if the worst-case scenario did happen, no-one can throw anything at us or point any fingers.

‘We will have given it absolutely everything and done it losing a hell of a lot of influential players.

‘If I get the same level of commitment as Saturday to go with the performance over the next 10 games and we still don’t make it, I can look myself in the mirror and say we gave it a right go.’