Man of the match a Ward - Appleton

PA Sport
Michael Appleton

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Michael Appleton

Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton paid tribute to hometown hero Joel Ward after he rescued his side a 1-1 draw against Southampton at Fratton Park.

After a dire first half, Southampton were the better of the two Hampshire teams and took charge after 63 minutes, with Rickie Lambert heading them into the lead.

However, Nigel Adkins' team failed to clear their lines from a David Norris corner after 84 minutes and Ward saved the day for Pompey with a soaring header, leading his manager to say: "Growing up as a Portsmouth lad and fan, he has probably dreamt about doing that for a while."

The npower Championship leaders appeared in control and looked set to keep Pompey at bay until Ward struck.

The Portsmouth-born utility player was the last man off the field as he soaked up the applause and Appleton added: "Joel can probably appreciate the importance of that goal more than the rest of the players. You could tell that with his celebration.

"I gave him a bit of stick because he was lording it up after the game and taking all the applause. We were waiting for him for about 10 minutes in the dressing room.

"He has popped up with a couple of goals recently, which is fantastic for him. He looks like he has a new lease of life about him."

While Appleton enjoyed his first south coast derby, he is relieved to see the back of Saints until the return fixture at St Mary's in April.

He said: "It will be nice not to mention the word 'Southampton' for a couple of months and just focus on climbing up the league and getting on with the rest of the season.

"These games get built up that much that the players forget to play at times. There weren't enough people prepared to put their foot on the ball and show a bit of composure."

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