Appleton: 'The lads put their bodies on the line'

Michael Appleton claps supporters

Michael Appleton was delighted with the fight his team showed as they twice came from behind to claim a point against league leaders Portsmouth on the south coast.

“From a character point of view and a commitment point of view, for the players to come back twice at a place like this against a side that are on the run that they’re on and top of the league [is impressive],” he told CharltonTV following the game.

“The biggest thing for me was not just the fact that obviously we’ve come from behind twice at a place like this, it’s the way we did it,” he continued. “When you can do that when you’re under the cosh a little bit like we were for about 15 minutes - to be able to do that and continue that and move forward shows me a lot about the group from a positive point of view.”

Playing at a sold-out Fratton Park is not an easy task, but Appleton was impressed with how his side fared. “You can get caught up in the atmosphere here. It was a big learning curve for a few of the players today and they came through it. It would have been very easy to cave in,” he said.

“The lads put their bodies on the line and earned the right to get an opportunity to go up the other end.”

The boss’ decision to bring on Conor McGrandles and not to substitute Tayo Edun, who was returning from injury, paid dividends as the latter assisted the former for the late equaliser.

“I’ve obviously worked with those two players before for a couple of years at Lincoln, so I know the durability that Tayo has got,” said the boss.

“The Conor one was an easy one because I knew we needed to get round them in the middle of the park. [Joe] Morrell and [Alex] Robertson were starting to dominate the game and we just needed to level up the numbers in the middle of the park for that last period and once we did that I thought we looked a real threat.”

Late equalisers can often feel like winners, but while Appleton was pleased, he is setting his sights on doing one better next time.

“I’d like to think at some point, whether it’s this season, next season, whatever, that we’ll come to places like this and dominate,” he concluded. “That’s where I want to take the football club if I can.”

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