Home-grown Portsmouth midfielder dreaming of Wembley

Ben Close is dreaming of Wembley after Checkatrade Trophy victory.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 10:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:33 pm
Pompey's Ben Close in action. Picture: Joe Pepler

A 1-0 success of Peterborough in the quarter-final of the competition puts Pompey within a win of a trip to the home of football.

The prospect of achieving that in the much-maligned competition is still something which divides fans.

That’s with many taking an ethical stance over the inclusion of under-21 sides and choosing to boycott the games.

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Pompey’s sixth win on the spin in front of a crowd of 3,313 puts them a game away from the final along with Bristol Rovers, Bury and Sunderland.

And Close explained that playing under the arch would be a huge experience for him.

He said: ‘Some of us haven’t played at Wembley.

‘It would be great to do that and it would be a great experience.

‘For the likes of us who haven’t played there - including myself - it would be a massive achievement to get to Wembley, no matter what the competition.

‘That’s definitely the aim.

‘I’ve been there for the FA Cup-final win in 2008 as a fan, so it would be great to do it as player.

‘But we’ve still got another game to go before we can think about doing that.’

The latest win in the competition came against a strong Peterborough side sent out by manager Steve Evans.

Pompey had a number of youngsters involved, including first-year academy talent Haji Mnoga and third-year scholars Matt Casey and Dan Smith.

So that gave provided another satisfying angle to the victory for Close.

He added: ‘It was a strong side we beat and a strong side against Southend in the last round.

‘Peterborough had some good quality on the bench, too, so when it came to 60 minutes they had people who could make an impact.

‘We stood up strong to that and we had to, so it was a deserved win.

‘The teams we’ve played against have taken it seriously, and you could see Peterborough wanted to win.

‘It felt like a competitive game so we’re pleased to win and go into the next round.’