Ben Close revelling in Gary Roberts’ Pompey presence

Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

  • Gary Roberts has scored four goals in his last 11 Pompey apperances
  • Midfielder has eight so far this season – equalling his return for Chesterfield last term
1
Have your say

The Pompey consensus is Gary Roberts is inching towards recapturing the form to devastate the lower divisions.

Yet Ben Close is already a firm admirer of his cultured team-mate.

Ben Close is enjoying playing alongside Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ben Close is enjoying playing alongside Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

Roberts registered an eighth goal in 24 games in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at struggling Yeovil.

It was a classy finish from the 31-year-old, who controlled Adam McGurk’s ball with his right foot before half-volleying home with his left.

An ankle injury has conspired to hamper the ex-Chesterfield man’s input during his maiden campaign at Fratton Park.

However, Roberts has featured in the Blues’ last 11 fixtures and is set to keep his place at Barnet tonight (7.45pm).

I love playing with him especially when he is moving off the defender and making good angles for me, it makes it easier for me to play

Ben Close

And Close admits he revels playing in the same side as the former League Two player of the season.

The 19-year-old said: ‘That was a lovely finish from Gary against Yeovil and once again shows what he can do.

‘He has demonstrated it plenty of times this season with assists and goals, he is a massive threat there.

‘I love playing alongside him especially when he is moving off the defender and making good angles for me, it makes it easier for me to play.

‘He is very technically gifted, a good goalscorer, good creator and I enjoy playing with him.

‘We have seen some of his goals and how good he can be, he has high standards of himself. And despite injury has still scored eight times this season.

‘Gary is a massive character, a big character in the changing room, always joking, which is good for the younger lads as well.

‘He has a knack, a lovely left foot. In that final third he is composed and you would back him if he had a chance.’

Of Roberts’ goals, four have come in his 11 matches since returning from injury.

He is now involved in a four-way tie at the top of Pompey’s goal-scoring stakes, along with Marc McNulty, Conor Chaplin and Gareth Evans.

Already Roberts has equalled the tally he registered during the entire League One campaign with Chesterfield last season.

Regardless, Pompey will tonight be expecting a superior team performance to the one rolled out against Yeovil at the weekend.

Barnet are presently 18th in League Two, although a reassuring 11 points above the relegation zone.

Back in September, Martin Allen’s side lost 3-1 to the Blues, Chaplin (two) and McGurk the scorers at Fratton Park.

Close was not part of the first-team squad that day.

But has now established himself alongside Michael Doyle as the holding midfielders.

And he will be attempting to provide Roberts and Co with creative assistance.

He added: ‘Our objective is to find the three in front of us and provide them with the ball so they can get in the final third and start creating chances.

‘That is something we have worked on in training and the philosophy we have.

‘We must provide them with the ball and let them go and do it in the final third.’