Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Fixture News

Close Excited To Make Derby Debut

From an excited spectator to a member of Pompey’s midfield

24 September 2019

Ben Close
Photo: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Ben Close was sat in the stands for a couple of the most recent south coast derbies.

So the midfielder is eager to be in the Pompey side for tonight’s Carabao Cup third round tie with Southampton at Fratton Park.

He watched with delight when the Blues romped to a 4-1 victory back in 2010 and witnessed Joel Ward’s late Championship leveller the following year.

But now Close is hoping to play his own part in another memorable contest with their Hampshire rivals.

He said: “We’re looking forward to it – just as the fans are – and can hopefully make it a really special occasion.

“It’s a game that we’ve been waiting for and, who knows, some of the lads here might not get another chance to play in this derby.

"I was quite young for that first one and it was pretty intimidating, but the rivalry was there for everyone to see."

Ben Close

“So we have to grab the opportunity with both hands. The fans will be up for it, but it’s our job as players to really get them going.

“I’ve watched the FA Cup game, when we won 4-1 at St Mary’s, as well as a home draw in the league, so I know what it’s like.

“I was quite young for that first one and it was pretty intimidating, but the rivalry was there for everyone to see.

“To actually be able to play in this game, though, really is something special and I can’t wait for it to get started.

“The build up started as soon as the draw was made last month, so we know the atmosphere is going to be pretty fiery.

“Southampton are a Premier League side and I’m sure they’ll be favourites, but this is a derby and we want to win. We have to be confident in our ability.”

Close hopes that a positive display against their top-flight opponents can prove a catalyst to improve their league form.

He said: “This game might have come at a good time for us and a really spirited performance is needed to help turn our season around.

“It’s been tough lately. All teams go through it at some point and hopefully this is just a bad run. We’re confident we can get things right.”


Advertisement block