Pompey goal hero shows selfish streak

Ben Close celebrates his maiden Fratton Park goal in the victory over AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close celebrates his maiden Fratton Park goal in the victory over AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Ben Close revealed he showed a selfish streak to deliver his maiden Fratton Park goal.

The Pompey midfielder got his first strike at his side’s home to help them to a 2-1 Boxing Day win over AFC Wimbledon.

Close cracked home a low 20-yard drive to make the breakthrough in the 45th minute of a game low on quality.

The 21-year-old ignored the overtures of Gareth Evans and Conor Chaplin, who were also in close attendance.

It’s the Southsea talent’s second goal at senior level and one he knows will remain etched in his memory.

Close said: ‘To score my first goal at Fratton Park was a great feeling.

‘I was told by Evo (Evans) and Chappers (Chaplin) that I shoud’ve passed to them because I had options either side.

‘But I made my mind up early I was going to shoot and I didn’t really think about passing.

‘It was nice to connect with it well and score.

‘Midfielders need to score goals and you do get chances from that sort of range across the season.

‘I just made my mind up early and wanted to keep it low. I was just glad it went in.’

Close picked up his 22nd appearance of the campaign in front of Pompey’s biggest crowd of the season.

The academy graduate has no doubt his game is benefitting from a steady stream of outings.

Close feels he’s now getting himself into better positions to score – and that’s something he’s determined to continue moving forward.

He said: ‘I’m getting myself into better positions. It comes down to fitness and confidence levels.

‘There was a chance when I drove forward in the 89th minute and I was fouled.

‘I was fit enough and strong enough to do that at the end of the game. Hopefully I can keep getting myself into those positions and scoring.

‘It’s hard training and I’m working in training.

‘The gaffer is telling us the importance of keeping those fitness levels high.

‘Playing games is the thing which helps the most with that.’

The AFC Wimbledon success was Pompey’s fifth on the bounce at Fratton Park.

There wasn’t a great deal of sparkle to the victory but Close feels that will come.

He said: ‘You take wins however they come.

‘It would be nice to play some more slick football sometimes. We had our moments, though.

‘The penalty came from a little move where we switched it out from the left side, around the back and down the right.

‘We are working on little patterns of play like that, so hopefully we can produce more in future.’