Mansfield Town left back Mal Benning smashed home yet another wonder goal in last night’s 3-2 win at Exeter and thanked the Stags staff for keeping faith with him after his serious knee injury.
Benning buried an unstoppable finish from 35 yards that he felt surpassed his other breathtaking finishes this season – a right-footed volley at Dagenham & Redbridge and a vicious left-footed strike at home to Newport County as well as a stunning 30 yard free kick on the first day of the season against Carlisle.
“It’s one of them again,” he smiled. “It was just a touch and I saw it bouncing and thought why not have a go? I struck it, looked up and saw it flying into the top corner – what a goal.
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“I think it was the best of them. The way I connected with that was ridiculous. I haven’t seen it back yet but my first thought is yes it’s going to top them.
“I can’t say I practice it. It’s just got to be one of those things. I am finding myself in those positions again up the pitch waiting for second balls coming out the box.
“You look at my other two – they just come out the box and I am hitting them off instinct. That’s what I’ve done again today.”
He added: “But a lot of credit should be given to the whole team tonight for not giving in when it went 2-2 then obviously Taff coming up with a legendary goal at the end.
“We were relieved to get the win. We were very comfortable first half. As soon as they scored they switched to three at the back which caused us problems.
“When it went to 2-2 it would have been very easy for us to give in. But we’ve shown character throughout the year. There is a great team spirit – that paid dividends and we got the win.
“When they got to 2-2 you could hear their crowd and we thought we could be in a battle here now. It could have gone either way.
“We could have crumbled with players shouting at each other and losing their heads. But as we are all mates off the pitch, we stay together.
“The subs came on and did well. Jamma (Jamie McGuire) made it more solid at the back when he came on– you expect that from him.
“When Taff scored that goal we knew we had a lifeline again, from then I thought we were very good.”
Stags trail AFC Wimbledon in the final play-off spot by six points with only three games left and the Dons having a game in hand.
However, Benning said no one was giving up yet.
“The gaffer told us to win our last four games and that was the mentality last night. We have nothing to lose,” he said.
“We are still six points adrift of the play-offs, but you never know. I have learnt it is a crazy game.
“Saturday was one of the best feelings I’ve had in football, winning 5-0 in a local derby. Today was more of a relief. We did our job again.” Benning suffered a bad knee injury in October that sidelined him until the end of January and said he was yet to hit the same form as before.
“I’ve been very inconsistent if I am being honest,” he said. “It’s been up/down. The first two games I came back I was all right, then I went through a rough patch.
“I’ve got to give credit to the gaffer and the coaches as I’ve had these lows in the game before and I’ve been straight out the team.
“I did come out the team for one game here but luckily came on as sub. So credit to them for keeping faith in me.
“As much as I wanted to come back and hit that form again, the standard I had hit was one of the best in my career.
“These things take time and hopefully I can work towards that and move on to next season.”