It's 150 up as one of Portsmouth's own breaks 39-year wait to register achievement

Ben Close has made his 150th appearance for his home-town club.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 3:40 pm

And, by doing so, becomes the first Portsmouth-born footballer to register the achievement in almost 39 years.

Keith Viney was the last to reach the landmark figure, accomplishing it in January 1981 under manager Frank Burrows in Division Three.

The left-back, who hails from the city, totalled 194 appearances and scored three times after emerging through the youth ranks.

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Now Close has followed in his footsteps, with his entrance off the bench at Fleetwood on Saturday representing a 150th outing for the Blues.

The boyhood Pompey fan was raised in Fratton and attended Priory School, climbing the club’s youth setup under the guidance of Andy Awford, Alan McLoughlin and Paul Hardyman.

He was handed his first-team debut by Awford in September 2014 at Yeovil in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Replacing an injured Nigel Atangana in the 43rd minute, he helped the Blues claim a 3-1 victory, through goals from Jed Wallace (two) and Craig Westcarr.

Football League debutant Ben Close celebrates with goalscorer Andy Barcham against Dagenham & Redbridge in September 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler

The previous month, Close had celebrated his 18th birthday, having signed a one-year deal in the summer of 2014.

He would make nine appearances during the 2014-15 campaign, including a Football League bow as a substitute against Dagenham & Redbridge a fortnight later.

During the League Two title-winning campaign of 2016-17, Close failed to make a single league outing, instead Paul Cook utilised him in cup competitions.

The midfielder started all three Checkatrade Trophy fixtures, in addition to an FA Cup home defeat to Wycombe in November 2016.

Ben Close, who made his Pompey first-team entrance in the 2014-15 season, has now reached 150 games for the club. Picture: Joe Pepler

Cook then loaned out Close to non-league Eastleigh for the second half of the season, designed to aid his development through regular first-team football.

It is under Kenny Jackett that Close has truly blossomed, establishing himself in the side since the Blues boss’ appointment in June 2017.

He made 45 appearances in the 2017-18 campaign, followed by 46 last term, including lining-up for the Checkatrade Trophy-winning side at Wembley in March 2019.

Close has also registered 16 goals for Pompey, including an impressive 13 during 2019, all from open play.

Ben Close was named among the substitutes at Fleetwood on Saturday but replaced Steve Seddon in the 81st minute Picture: Paul Thompson

And here’s to many more landmarks from one of Pompey’s own.