Ben Close’s reveals Portsmouth’s play-off disappointment at Plymouth making him hungry to prevail this time around

Ben Close revealed his past play-off pain is making him hungrier to succeed this time around.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 9th May 2019, 11:59 pm

The academy graduate featured for Pompey when they suffered heartbreak at Plymouth in 2016.

Paul Cook's side met Plymouth Argyle in the League Two semi-final, with the first leg ending a 2-2 draw at Fratton Park.

The return game at Home Park looked to be heading for extra-time before Pilgrims defender Peter Hartley’s 91st-minute header eliminated the Blues in devastating fashion.

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Ben Close dejected after Peter Harley's goal for Plymouth knocked Pompey out of the play-offs three years ago. Picture: Joe Pepler

Close came on as a first-half substitute at Plymouth, replacing the injured Danny Hollands.

The Southsea midfielder admitted he was crushed when the Blues missed out on promotion three years ago.

He’s preparing to ride the play-off rollercoaster again – this time as a key member of Kenny Jackett’s side.

And his previous disappointment is driving him on to succeed and reach the Championship.

Ben Close celebrates against Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler

Close said: ‘You learn how disappointing the feeling is to lose – especially that late in the semi-final.

‘We have got players in the squad that have lost in play-offs and won in the play-offs.

‘We obviously want to be on the right end of the semi-final and the final if we do get there.

‘What we can learn is that it is crushing and devastating when you do lose.

‘None of us are going to want to experience that. The hunger is there and the attitude is there.

‘I’m confident that we can do the job in the semi-final and the final if we do get there.’

Pompey renew their rivalry with Sunderland, with the semi-final first leg taking place at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

It will be the fourth time the sides do battle this season.

The most memorable of the meetings came in the Checkatrade Final, with the Blues triumphing on penalties to clinch the silverware.

Jackett’s men fought from a goal behind at Wembley, with Close pinpointing it was one example of the desire Pompey have shown to succeed this term.

He added: ‘The players are hungry to win and we’ve shown that all season.

‘In the Checkatrade Trophy final, we were hungry to turn around the first half with the second-half performance.

‘That’s what we are looking to do to win the play-offs.

‘We have shown it and we have got to do more of the same.’