The fate of Portsmouth’s future has been left to hang further in the balance as they took a 5-1 thumping by an on-form Burnley side.
Relegation battles are in full throttle with the end of the season looming, and Appleton’s side now reside five points from safety with only six games left to save their Championship status.
In the days leading up to the match it had been reported that Portsmouth fans were attempting to buy the club and save them from their ordeal. After this latest defeat the players will have to listen to the ‘play up Pompey’ chant in order to keep the strong fan believing.
The game started off to a positive start and it was Portsmouth who had the first attempt after defender Tal Ben Haim involved himself in some attacking play that saw attempts from Scott Allan sent closely wide.
Burnley took advantage of the missed opportunities from Portsmouth, and quickly took the lead through a simple training ground goal from Kieran Trippier.
With the Pompey boys trailing, the fans got behind their team wholly determined to prove that they will not let their club go quietly.
The increased atmosphere appeared to have a positive effect as Appleton’s side responded to the Burnley goal 19 minutes in to the second half, as Norris netted a beauty of a goal, which one fan called “best goal of the season.”
With Norris’s equalizer, Portsmouth looked by far the better team. New boy Rekik consistently exposed Burnley’s left side; however, no damage was made as Pompey failed to convert shots into goals.
The first half finished 1-1, and by their performance on the field Portsmouth’s relegation battles were looking like a thing of the past.
However, the second half was a totally different affair and Burnley by far took the home side by surprise.
Only two minutes into the second half a cross in to the box from Burnley’s Edgar allowed Ings to head past a bewildered Portsmouth goalkeeper.
Luke Varney, usually a very confident player, struggled to get in to the flow of the game and consequently missed goal scoring opportunities.
Aside from Varney, the Blues boys struggled as a whole as they gave Burnley too much space both on and off the ball. Burnley’s fluidity between the defence and the midfield created room for daring runs to be made across the whole length of the pitch.
The afternoon continued to be the bearer of bad news for the home side as a free kick weaved its way to Charlie Austin in the box, who skipped past Ashdown to make the score 3-1.
After another few missed opportunities from Varney and Allan, Pompey looked tired and defeated. McCann was constantly tearing down the left hand side and putting near perfect balls into the box.
The home side’s inability to mark the quick-paced Burnley players and maintain possession saw the score line increase once again. Captain Jason Pearce, held his head in his hands, as he watched Austin latch on to a weak back pass and take it round Ashdown with precision and ease. 4-1 to the Clarets and the home side players and fans knew it was all over.
Unfortunately for Portsmouth, the game was not finished. Burnley took a fifth and final goal through Austin, a hat-trick that helped claim his side their first win in seven games.
The loss keeps Portsmouth firmly in the relegation zone, and with the rival game against Southampton next Saturday, the team will have to find their form in what is a must-win game.
Michael Appleton was, as always, calm and collected on the touchline throughout the match and remained stoical after the match: “The first half was probably as good as Tuesday [2-0 win vs Hull] from a performance point of view. We never took the opportunities created.
“I was frustrated with their [opening] goal. We showed the players they do that a dozen times, so it’s frustrating.
“They were clinical in the second half and we weren’t in the first. We got punished. That doesn’t disguise the fact we lost too many of our personal battles.”