Appleton dreaming of a Great Escape

Pompey boss Michael Appleton on the touchline against Hull  Picture: Oliver Zee

Pompey boss Michael Appleton on the touchline against Hull Picture: Oliver Zee

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Michael Appleton has pledged he will never stop believing Pompey can survive against all the odds.

The Blues’ hopes of beating the drop received a massive boost last night after they pulled off a superb 2-0 home victory over Hull.

Chris Maguire and Joel Ward scored in the first half during a dominant display Appleton rates as his best ever as boss.

The result was enough to lift Pompey off the foot of the Championship table at the expense of Doncaster Rovers, having sunk there five matches earlier.

They are now just three points off safety, with seven league games remaining.

Next up are Burnley on Saturday – one of four fixtures left at Fratton Park this season.

And Appleton remains as confident as ever his side can pull off the latest instalment of the Great Escape.

He said: ‘I have never stopped believing.

‘I can genuinely look you in the eye and say that – and I have said that after every game we have played.

‘There are going to be lots of twists and turns and ups and downs in the next seven games.

‘There are 21 points to play for.

How many points do you need to stay up? Who knows?

‘All I want is for those players to give me the honesty, the effort and enthusiasm as they did last night and the quality will come with that.

‘If they do that and don’t win games, I certainly can’t ask for any more than that, and the fans won’t ask for any more than that because they have given everything.

‘Of course, we still have to come and repeat this performance on Saturday.

‘Last Tuesday I was delighted with the second-half performance against Birmingham, but we weren’t able to follow that up against Coventry.

‘My briefing to the players after last night’s game was brief.

‘It was to enjoy it for a few hours and make sure you come in today.

‘The only thing we are thinking about is Burnley and I mean that with the greatest of respect to Hull.

‘It really has to be a professional job from here on in.’

Last night’s result represented the perfect response from the players following their Ricoh Arena disappointment.

Appleton admitted that was the lowest he had felt after a Blues match.

Then his side bounced back to produce their best performance since he took over as manager back in November.

‘It was total dominance from minute one to 95,’ added Appleton.

‘The players certainly knew exactly how I felt after Saturday’s game and I was delighted with the response I got from them.

‘That was the best performance since I have been in charge by an absolute mile.

‘I think Hull had one opportunity, one shot, in the entire game.

‘How we performed against Coventry wasn’t really like us.

‘Even when results weren’t really going for us through the period of administration and losing players to other clubs, we were still performing reasonably well and being hard to beat.’