Close: Portsmouth showdown with Plymouth will still be full of fire

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Ben Close is ready to renew a ‘fiery’ rivalry with Plymouth.

The Pompey midfielder is looking forward to another lively showdown as his team welcome their port foes to Fratton Park tomorrow.

Pompey midfielder Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder Ben Close. Picture: Joe Pepler

Familiarity has bred a fair degree of contempt in recent seasons with eight meetings between the sides in three years.

That has included the late, late play-off semi-final loss at Home Park in 2016 and spanned the League Two title win 12 months later, when the Blues pipped the Pilgrims to the championship in dramatic fashion on the final day.

The antipathy between Paul Cook and Derek Adams fuelled much of the fire between their sides.

Kenny Jackett’s arrival as Cook’s successor last year tempered some of that spice, however.

A dejected Ben Close after Pompey's League Two play-off loss at Plymouth in 2016. Picture: Joe Pepler

A dejected Ben Close after Pompey's League Two play-off loss at Plymouth in 2016. Picture: Joe Pepler

Adams did throw a few thinly-veiled barbs Jackett’s way after the 0-0 draw in April, though, suggesting his team played for a point and didn’t threaten Plymouth in a game where the visitors had more shots on goal.

Close knows all about the how well contested the clashes have been in recent seasons, featuring in three of the fixtures.

Just five of the team who started at Doncaster last weekend have played against Plymouth previously in Pompey colours, though.

And Adams has again had a big turnover of players as his team make a slow start, currently sitting bottom of the table.

But Close still believes the game will be a fiercely-contested affair and the new faces involved will feel an intensity to proceedings.

Close said: ‘There is an edge to these games.

‘Those players coming in will probably realise that's the case on Saturday.

‘Their manager is still there from the last few years, so it will be a fiery game again.

‘It's one we feel can win, though.

‘I don't know what it is about playing Plymouth.

‘The games tend to be good and intense.

‘The chances are we will probably have another one like that this weekend.

‘Whatever team the manager puts out we'll be feeling confident we can go out and get a result.’

After two games on the road, Close is looking forward to returning to some home comforts at Fratton with a clear week to prepare for the game.

He added: ‘We've got a couple of homes games now. We're looking forward to that.

‘It's been a busy spell going Saturday-Tuesday for a couple of weeks.

‘We've got a full week, so we'll be full of energy going into the game.

‘We had a tough two weeks with some tough games and a long journey last Friday.

‘The first-half performance may have been related to that.

‘It's been quite a tough schedule when you're coming straight into it at the start of the season.

‘So I think we've done excellently to get the results we have.’