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League One

Appleton urges big-game mentality

16 September 2012

Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton called on his side to show all of their League One rivals respect after they went down 2-1 at home to Walsall.

James Baxendale's long-range effort after 56 minutes put the Saddlers ahead before a cool side-footed strike from Florent Cuvelier doubled their advantage after 63 minutes.

Pompey's Izale McLeod swept home Darel Russell's ball six minutes later, but Walsall held on comfortably for the three points.

Appleton's men have a big match with Swindon on Tuesday but the former West Brom coach says his men need to treat every game the same.

He said: "The work rate from a couple of the other players was questionable and that's disappointing.

"We have Swindon here on Tuesday and I'm sure the players will raise their game because they'll see it as a big game, but that's what they've got to get out of their heads.

"There are not going to be enough so-called big games in their heads this season. Every game is as big as the next one and that's the attitude they have to go in with."

Walsall boss Dean Smith paid tribute to his young side for coping with the big atmosphere.

He said: "For some of them, that would have been the biggest crowd they've played in front of. But I told them, 'don't play the crowd, play the match.' The game doesn't change, the pitch size is still the same, and it's still a white ball they're trying to get into the net at the other end.

"We have a really good set of lads who want to learn and get better, and it's a pleasure to work with them. I thought we had a really tough start, so it's nice to be five games unbeaten. But we're only six games in and it's a long season to go."

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