Delighted East had to enjoy his moment

Danny East gets a hug from Alan McLoughlin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny East gets a hug from Alan McLoughlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Danny East sent his former club spinning towards relegation on his injury return and admitted: I had to celebrate the goal.

East netted the decisive strike in the 1-0 win at Northampton as Andy Awford’s men secured their place in League Two.

It was the former Hull man’s first appearance since December 29 – when his injured his ankle against the Cobblers at Fratton Park.

East admitted being out for that length of time proved a test of his mental strength.

And that boiled to the surface in his passionate celebrations after his sixth-minute finish.

East stated he considered not celebrating after making 19 appearances on loan at Northampton last season.

But the release of scoring after his injury problems meant he had to enjoy the moment.

East said: ‘It seems like it was written in the stars that I’d score.

‘I had a sneaky feeling I might get one.

‘The boys were saying I was going to get one because I’ve been sticking them away in training.

‘Big Jake (Jervis) has won the header and I just gambled on it.

‘I was lucky enough to get a foot on it and guide the ball in over the keeper’s head.

‘I think it all came out when I scored.

‘The frustration came out. Everything came out.

‘Northampton are an old team of mine but all my emotions were there.

‘I thought about whether I’d celebrate a goal before the game.

‘But when you have been out for three-and-a-half months and come back in and score it’s bound to come to the surface.

‘I saw the fans and how passionate they all are and I just kind of exploded.

‘It’s a natural reaction. I didn’t think twice about celebrating it in the end!’

With Northampton fighting for their lives in the bottom two, East knew the clash would prove a battle for his team.

Pompey’s play lacked the fluency of some of their recent performances in their five-match winning run.

But Awford’s men weren’t lacking for fighting spirit as they withstood Northampton’s charge in the second half.

They held on to collect a deserved clean sheet, however, to lift them to 13th in the table – and behind 10th-placed Bury on goal difference.

East said: ‘It was a bit of a battle. I didn’t really feel like I could put my foot on the ball. It felt more like a physical battle.

‘Chris Wilder is a great manager and what he has done at Northampton is class.

‘We knew going there was not going to be a pushover and it wasn’t a pushover.

‘They played well and with passion – but we showed character.

‘I don’t think I did much apart from battle and put my head in where it hurts.

‘I think a few of us were a bit tired but we all dug in and we were all together.

‘I wanted to get on the ball a bit more, especially when I went into the middle, but it just wasn’t like that.

‘We made a lot of changes and Awfs has been good at making everyone feel a part of things.’