Emerging full-back on the right road...IT’S been a season that has exceeded the expectations of the emerging Mal Benning.
Having put pen-to-paper on his first professional contract last summer, the talented left-back was given his first-team debut in November and went on to make 11 appearances in all competitions.
His progress was rewarded with a new two and-a-half year deal at the turn of this year, such is the regard in which he is held here at Banks’s Stadium.
“I’m very pleased with how things have gone for me this season,” he said. “It really has exceeded my expectations.
“At the start I just wanted to do well for the reserves and then maybe push for a chance in the first-team towards the end of the season.
“But I was given my chance in November and I would like to think that I have done well and made the most of it.
“The team spirit here is really important to us and that is the reason why we came through a difficult spell around October time to finish very strongly.
“The lads all work hard for each other and want each other to do well, so it’s good that the majority of us are already signed up for next season and we can look forward to continuing the progress that we have made as a group.”
So, how has the 19 year-old found League One?
“I expected it to be a bit more physical, if I’m being honest,” he added. “There are physical teams at this level, but the main thing for me has been the tempo, which is a lot higher than you think watching from the sidelines.
“It’s been a challenge, but one I have enjoyed and now I already look forward to next season with anticipation.
“Andy Taylor is a quality left-back and I know it will be hard for me to get a regular place, but all I can do is keep working hard and be ready to take my chance when it is presented to me.
“It’s about being part of a team effort and making sure that I give myself every chance. We’ve all been given a fitness programme to follow by Jon Whitney, so by sticking to that I know that I will be ready to go when pre-season starts.”