Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close aiming for another memorable cup experience against Birmingham following previous ties with Derby and Reading
Ben Close is aiming for another memorable Carabao Cup experience.
The competition has served the Pompey midfielder well during his fledgling career.
During the 2015-16 season, Close featured when the Blues upset Championship side Derby County 2-1 in the opening round at Fratton Park.
In the next round, Paul Cook’s men delivered another valiant effort against Reading, but fell to a 2-1 loss.
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It’s another second-tier outfit in Birmingham City who make the trip to the south coast tonight (7.45pm).
Close looks set to start against Pep Clotet’s men following Ross McCrorie’s suspension and is out to take another big scalp.
The academy graduate said: ‘I have some good memories from the competition.
‘We obviously beat Derby a few years back now when I was a second-year pro.
‘It was on TV and what a game that was – the atmosphere was like a league game that day.
‘We took the lead when Adam McGuirk scored a header. They equaliser then Conor (Chaplin) came on and got the winner late on.
‘The atmosphere was amazing and we played well. Hopefully we can get an atmosphere a bit like that and as players it’s our job to get the fans going from kick-off.
‘We played Reading in the next round and we put in a good performance.
‘We just lost late on so hopefully we can recreate something like that with a good performance and result.’
The Birmingham clash offers Pompey an opportunity to test themselves against an established Championship side.
With the Blues having designs on promotion from League One, Close feels it can offer Kenny Jackett’s troops a good yardstick on where they're currently at.
He added: ‘It’s a great test and a chance to see where we stand outside our league.
‘Knowing the lads in our team, they’ll want to show that we can make the step up.’