Wing-back Mal Benning says that he will use the ‘disappointment’ of last season to fuel him next term.
Benning, who is currently Stags’ longest serving player, appeared 55 times for the amber and blue last season, as Mansfield narrowly missed out on promotion.
The 25-year-old says that season’s experiences will ‘gear him up’ for the new campaign.
“It was a good season last season. I know we fell just short and the fans backed us all the way,” he said.
“I think it was that last step that we missed out on in that last month. The feeling before the MK Dons game is something that you don’t experience very often, being a game away from promotion.
“Last season, when the fans did turn up in big numbers away from home, we didn’t really put the performances in.
“At home, we were decent and played some good football. If you look at the MK Dons game, we conceded that early goal and then couldn’t get any flow.
“The disappointment [from last season] is still there. I didn’t even watch the play-off [final]. I saw the score, but I didn’t want to watch it.
“It’s something that will be inside of me and gearing me up for next year.”
Last month, it was announced that John Dempster was appointed as the Stags’ first team boss, someone Benning describes as a ‘top guy’ and ‘top man.’
The defender also spoke of his off-season plans.
“I’ve just been away to Mexico with the missus,” he explained. “I’m just back now and I’m hoping to get away once more.
“I need to get back into the flow of fitness work, because I’ve had my relaxing time now.
“I’m starting to miss football now, so I’m looking forward to pre-season. Because there were a lot of games last season, I’ve given myself around three weeks off.
“I’m slowly going to get back into it now with nothing too strenuous. I’ll do a bit of light jogging, weights and conditioning work.
“Around two weeks before I get back, I’ll probably step up the gears.
“The new gaffer [John Dempster] brought us in for [one-to-one] meetings. We had those meetings, which were positive.
“He just told us not to dwell on last season, get yourself away and then get ready to be geared up for the upcoming season.
“I know the new gaffer because I’ve been here for four years [due to John Dempster previously being academy manager].
“I’ve seen him around the place with the youth team and I know what a top guy and top man he is.
“For them to win so many youth titles, it must take something. I was part of a good youth team at Walsall, and we didn’t even win a title.
“For those to be winning titles consecutively, and then the gaffer to get the chance with the first team, I think it’s a good time to come.”
The former Walsall defender reflected on the good memories he has experienced in recent campaigns with the Stags, speaking of his famous derby day winner against Chesterfield in April 2018.
“I think the Bury game at home [Boxing Day 2018], that was one of the best games I’ve played in,” added Benning. “Both sides like to play football, and some of the football we played was good to be involved in.
“Personally, in the four years I’ve been here, Chesterfield [away, 2017-18 season] was the best derby I’ve played in.
“Notts [County] is always a good occasion because of the backing that we get there. We haven’t really got a close derby game next year, so it will be something I’ll miss.
“When it [video of winner against Chesterfield] came out, I’d watch it daily – about ten times! Now it’s less, but if people tag me in it, I’ll watch it. It brings a tingle to me still.
“I just came back from suspension, and to score the winner against a local rival like that, it was a good feeling.”
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