Portsmouth midfielder sees no reason not to continue golden goal run

Ben Close celebrates his goal against Birmingham. Picture: Barry Zee
Ben Close celebrates his goal against Birmingham. Picture: Barry Zee
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Ben Close has targetted continuing his ‘prolific’ form after his latest super strike.

The Pompey midfielder grabbed the headlines with his 20-yard rocket in Tuesday’s televised Carabao Cup win over Championship Birmingham.

The Southsea academy graduate made a big impression on his return to the side, after being displaced by Rangers new boy Ross McCrorie at Shrewsbury.

It was the best possible response from Close as he continued his outstanding form in front of goal.

The 22-year-old grabbed nine finishes last term - with eight of those efforts arriving over 20 appearances since February.

It was an outstanding run Close is now looking to continue as he looks towards a double-figure return and place in Kenny Jackett’s starting XI.

Close said: ‘It was eight goals after February last season.

‘For me, compared to what I’ve done in my career before it was prolific and it’s something I want to repeat this season.

‘I’ve never had a run quite like that, although I got into double figures as second-year scholar.

‘It felt like I was scoring every two or three games and it was a great feeling to have.

‘After a while it just started to feel like the norm.

‘My challenge is now to get back into the team on Saturday and recreate that form.

‘I have targets but I don’t shout about them. Double figures for a midfielder is a good return, though.

‘Hopefully we can have a lot of players get into double figures.’

Despite such a marked improvement to his goal form, Close explained he doesn’t feel he’s changed his game to spark the goal run.

But he does feel getting into the right areas had helped an increasingly-keen eye for the spectacular.

Close added: ‘Every player goes through a run like that although it’s usually strikers.

‘You get patches of form and the best say the same thing - if you’re getting chances and getting into the right areas the goals will come.

‘A lot of the goals have come from just outside the box. A lot of the time they were falling back to me or knockdowns.

‘As a midfielder, that’s something you want to do if the ball falls to you.

‘If it falls in that area it’s your job. It’s not down to the winger or the striker - it’s up to you to attack the ball and score..

‘It’s funny because mentally I wasn’t thinking I’m going to score in this game or whatever.

‘I was just focussing on my job as a midfielder and trying to help my team win.

‘I was trying to get into defensive positions to intercept as well as goalscoring areas.

‘In the end I was in the right areas and the goals came. That’s what I have to do again.’