Close: Portsmouth had to deliver at Shrewsbury after we watched Barnsley beat Walsall

Ben Close revealed Pompey watched Barnsley defeat Walsall – and knew the pressure was on to deliver a victory over Shrewsbury.

Sunday, 24th March 2019, 10:39 am
Updated Sunday, 24th March 2019, 10:46 am
Ben Close in action at Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Tykes delivered a late 1-0 win at the Bescot Stadium in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.

That moved Daniel Stendel’s second-placed side seven points above the Blues in the race for League One automatic promotion.

However, Kenny Jackett’s troops held their nerve impeccably at New Meadow.

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Ben Close in action at Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler

Goals from Close and Brett Pitman either side of half-time ensured Pompey quickly reduced the deficit again to four points. 

The Southsea midfielder revealed the Blues saw the majority of Barnsley’s success and found out they’d grabbed a stoppage-time winner before kick-off against the Shrews.

And he stressed it was crucial Jackett’s troops continued to put the pressure on the Tykes against the Shrews.

Close said: ‘Certainly after that result (we knew we needed to win).

‘We did see the result and knew it was big to get the win. 

‘Good teams win when they’re not at their best and Barnsley did.

‘So we have got to match results like that. 

‘We put it out of our minds before the game because all the focus was on them and did the job.

‘If they win, we’ve got to win but if they draw or lose then we have got to win as well because it’s a chance to leapfrog them.

‘Thankfully we did because we put in a good performance on Saturday, especially in both boxes, and won the game.’

Pompey also took advantage of Sunderland being without a fixture and moved up to third in the table.

Although the Black Cats have two games in hand, Close feels there’s pressure on them to regain their spot.

‘The games in hand is good for them but they have got to win them,’ added the academy graduate.

‘Even if we don’t make the automatics, we need to make sure we go into the play-offs in good form.

‘That’s just how it is. We want to finish the season with strong performances and strong results.’