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Derby-day hero reflects on huge winning goal

14 April 2018

Derby-day hero Mal Benning believes his dramatic winning goal against rivals Chesterfield was one of the most important he has scored in his career.

It was a must-win game for both teams and after a tense, closely-fought opening hour, Mansfield took the lead with what proved to be the eventual match winner.

Benning picked up the ball on the left of the Chesterfield area before driving into the box and picking his spot, finding the bottom corner to spark scenes of jubilation from the 2,617 Stags fans in attendance.

“It was a must-win and we did it and it proves how we’re developing under the gaffer,” said the attacking full-back.

“[It’s crazy]. I don’t know how I’m feeling at the moment to be honest, I don’t know what to think.

“CJ [Hamilton] came on and the full-back went in with him so I thought it’s my opportunity to get forward here. It’s been played into my path and it’s bobbling for a bit. I thought ‘let’s have a shot’, it deflected a little bit but it was still going in anyway regardless. And that feeling! It was my first ever knee slide, I enjoyed it.

“You look at the size of the game, it was a derby and it was a must win for us and it’s up there with one of the most important goals I’ve ever scored.”

Benning also stated his belief that the race for the play-off places will go down to the last day of the season, and has warned people not to write off the Stags.

“We’re still in with a shout, people had wrote us off, I don’t get why. We’re in [the play-off places] at the moment, we’ll see how the results go today, but it’s going to go down to the wire.

“[The dressing room’s] buzzing but we can’t get too high. We’ve still got work to do. [We’ve got] three games left and three victories will put us in the play-offs so let’s win them and perform like we did today.

“We can’t step off it now. Obviously the mood is good but we should keep level-headed and keep going.”

Benning’s goal gave Mansfield their first win since a 1-0 victory against Exeter back in February and the defender was quick to dedicate such an important victory to the Stags’ fans who were non-stop in their vocal support of the players.

“First of all, that’s for the fans. We know how much it means to them and to get the first win under the gaffer as well, to do it here, it’s a good feeling.

“You look at the size of the game, it was a derby and it was a must win for us and it’s up there with one of the most important goals I’ve ever scored.”

Mal Benning, defender

“We know we haven’t won in ages. The gaffer’s still trying to implement his things and everyone is trying to buy into it, you can see that with the performances against Accrington and Luton.

“We knew a win was coming. When I got sent off against [Accrington], the ball was just bouncing every time in their box and we’ve just not had that lucky break through but today the two centre-halves, Pearcey and Zander [Diamond], did very well. They just tried to bomb our box and we dealt with it very well. The whole team [put in] a very good performance.

“Those last 20 minutes went on for ages and hearing [the fans’] voices [helped] and it [the win] is for them.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can listen to Mal Benning’s answers in full by logging into later today.

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