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Interviews

Support can make the difference - Benning

11 April 2019

With over 1,400 Stags’ fans expected to travel for this weekend’s clash away to Northampton, wing-back Mal Benning says that the exceptional support could ‘make the difference.’

The 25-year-old, who has appeared 48 times for Mansfield this season, also listed the qualities he believes will be required to ensure a positive end to the campaign.

Benning added that the Stags must simply ‘enjoy’ the ‘good pressure’ that the race for automatic promotion brings.

“If you go back to pre-season and the signings that the gaffer made, as you can see he’s bedded them into the team well,” he said.

“As a team, we’re a strong unit. It’s about being consistent and keeping going. Hopefully it will pay off.

“You want to play every game, but it’s the lads that don’t play, come on and make a huge difference [that are important].

“Everyone backs each other to do well. It’s a good pressure to be under and there’s a lot at stake –we just have to enjoy it.

“I would be the best achievement of my football career if we do achieve it [promotion]. But it’s not just for me. I’ve been here and seen how the club’s progressed, and I think it’s ready to kick on now.

“It [support going to Northampton] could make the difference. Even the game here on Saturday [against Cambridge], at 0-0 they still backed us. The fans help us get over that line, and hopefully they can do that at Northampton on Saturday.”

Mal Benning, wing-back

“It’s about doing what we’ve done for the past 41 games. There have been ups and downs and it’s not going to be easy for us. It’s one of those where we just have to keep going.

“It [support going to Northampton] could make the difference. Even the game here on Saturday [against Cambridge], at 0-0 they still backed us. The fans help us get over that line, and hopefully they can do that at Northampton on Saturday.”

The defender was recently named in the Sky Bet League Two Team of the Season – along with fellow Stags’ players Krystian Pearce, Tyler Walker and CJ Hamilton – and travelled down to London on Sunday for the EFL Awards.

Benning says that being a part of the Team of the Season is a ‘special moment’ in his career.

“It was a very special moment for me and the other three lads,” he added. “It’s obviously a big achievement for me to get into the Team of the Season, and for the club as well to get four players in there.

“It was something that I feel shows my hard work has paid off. Being released from a club and coming here, Mansfield has been a breath of fresh air for me.

“I’m comfortable here and it’s very good. To see that I’ve been recognised for that hard work, it’s a good feeling.

“I feel like I’ve done well this season, but what’s helped is that we’re now challenging at the top of the table. It’s one of them that adds to what you’ve done on the pitch. It’s a credit to the team and the club.

“If I’m being honest, I want a couple more goals before the end of the season considering I’m playing wing-back. Hopefully I can add a few more.”

The Stags currently boast the best defensive record in Sky Bet League Two this season, and Benning deflected the praise for the impressive stat onto his team-mates, particularly those that feature in the back-three of manager David Flitcroft’s system.

“There are some big characters and big personalities in this squad. If you look at the spine of the team, there’s a lot of experience.

“This season, we’ve still got the best defensive record, so hopefully we can keep that and build on that.

“The credit has to go to the back-three, because as a wing-back, sometimes you’re not doing as much defensive work as a left-back.

“The back-three has been immense. As a wing-back, you have to help at the back and going forward as well. I do like attacking, so I do find myself up the pitch.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Mal Benning’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


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