Benning : Dagenham Goal My Best

Ask any Mansfield fan which player is at the forefront of their minds at the moment, and their reply would almost certainly be Malvind Benning. The marauding left back has produced two stunning volleys in the last two games, against Dagenham and Newport respectively and has also contributed towards a Stags defence which has earned many plaudits so far, an aspect of his game which his manager had stated brings him the most satisfaction.

Benning's latest goal against Newport on Saturday has been labelled by numerous fans, some having witnessed thousands of goals during years of loyal support, as the best they have ever seen following Mansfield. Having ventured towards the edge of the area, Benning was picked out expertly by Jack Thomas and thumped a left footed volley into the top left hand corner. The majority of spectators within the ground were stunned, prolonging their normal goal celebrations with a rapturous round of applause. The feat achieved by the defender came just seven days after he had converted a similar opportunity at Dagenham, this time with his weaker foot. When asked which goal was his favourite, Mal was in no doubt as to which he preferred 'For me it would be Dagenham. It's definitely a recent trend (scoring long range goals), the rest of my goals have been tap ins!'.

Having emerged through the youth ranks at Walsall, Benning made close to 50 appearances at League One level, scoring two goals. The full back has already surpassed that total for the Stags, his recent volley's adding to a stunning free-kick on his league debut for the club against Carlisle on the opening day of the season. Mal feels Adam Murray's tactics have assisted his goal tally 'He (Murray) wants the full backs to be involved in the game as much as possible, which suits my style of play.' The manager, amongst the adulation of Benning's recent attacking efforrts, reserved praise for the defender's improvements in guarding his own goal. Benning said 'Although I am an attacking full back, I am a defender first. There's plenty of work to be done on both sides of my game. The coaching staff here are very good and there are plenty of aspects of the game which I have picked up on, and many I still need to learn. I'm enjoying it'.

Having reached double figures in terms of appearances in every season between 2012-2015 whilst playing for Walsall, it is perhaps a surprise that Benning chose to descend to League Two level. Nevertheless, the former Saddler's man has played every minutes of every game for his new club since joining in the summer, a key factor in Benning's decision to sign for the Stags 'I heard of the interest from the gaffer and his plans for the season sold it to me. I was looking for more game time which is not guaranteed here, but hopefully I can work hard and continue to earn my place in the team'.

A familiar face joined Benning at Mansfield when Craig Westcarr signed on the dotted line. The two had been teammates at Walsall and even scored in the same game against Stevenage in April 2014. Adam Murray has made no secret that the dressing room contains some big characters, but Benning see's himself as more reserved 'I am one of the quieter ones. It's a bit nerve-racking walking into a new dressing room so knowing 'Westy' eased it a little.'

Mansfield have started the season excellently and find themselves sitting in fourth position, above all pre-season expectations. Adam Murray has spoken of a certain 'buzz' around the club, and the town are beginning to respond to the clubs on-field success, with a slight increase in attendance on Saturday. When asked of his forecast at the beginning of the campaign, Benning was sensible in his assessment 'We did not know where we would be! We have a good team and are taking each game as it comes and we will see where we go from there. The support has been great so far and we are thankful given the long journeys they have taken. Hopefully we can keep repaying with results on the pitch'.

It is fair to say Mal Benning has created a favourable impression with supporters since pulling on an amber shirt, possessing electric pace, a reliable delivery and an unwavering engine. The recent publicity surrounding the full backs glorious goals has earned several goal of the week accolades from various media outlets. At just 21 years of age, the scope for future improvement is plentiful and supporters will be hoping that Benning will be fulfilling his potential at the One Call Stadium for years to come.