Ben Close: I've lost 7-0 against Southampton - now it's time for Portsmouth to put that right

Ben Close cannot shake off memories of that 7-0 south-coast derby defeat.

By Neil Allen
Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 9:00 am
Pompey midfielder Ben Close

Few may recall the occasion of the Blues’ FA Youth Cup hammering at St Mary’s in December 2013 – yet Close does.

As a second-year scholar, he featured for the match’s full duration, alongside the likes of Brandon Haunstrup, Jack Whatmough, Conor Chaplin, Alex Bass and Bradley Tarbuck.

A crowd of 3,814, including 616 Pompey followers, witnessed the brutal dismantling of Andy Awford's side as the talented Southampton youngsters ran riot.

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Pompey midfielder Ben Close

Sam Gallagher bagged a hat-trick, with future Football League performers Jake Hesketh, Niall Mason, Matt Targett and Josh Sims also turning out for the triumphant hosts.

Now the Carabao Cup is offering Close and Haunstrup the opportunity of a south-coast derby at senior level.

Close said: ‘I remember a lot of my youth-team games – and that stands out in particular.

‘It’s the heaviest defeat I have been part of. To come against Southampton made it even worse.

Sam Gallagher heads home, watched by Ben Close, in Southampton's 7-0 humbling of Pompey in the FA Youth Cup in December 2013. Picture: Barry Zee.

‘That game is not easy to forget, it’s still in my memory and hurts to this day. I want to put that right.

‘It was a funny match because we actually started okay and it was 0-0 for a while, then they got a couple of goals before half-time and we crumbled.

‘I remember one of the goals went in off Sam Gallagher’s shin from the edge of the box, it literally rolled in.

‘We had a massive chance at 0-0 as well, a one-on-one, I don’t want to say any names because I don’t want to chuck anyone under the bus!

‘It does still hurt and, every so often, it gets brought up. Tuesday is a kind of opportunity to forget that.

‘It took a while to get over, I won’t lie, but if we won on Tuesday, it would certainly put that memory to one side.’

Of course, as a lifetime Pompey fan himself, Close also possesses fond memories of attending south-coast derbies in a supporter capacity.

He added: ‘I remember Joel Ward’s header at the back post in the 1-1, as well as the 4-1 at St Mary’s in the FA Cup in 2010.

‘I would love to recreate them!’