DAN Bennett is one of the success stories of the season so far. He has become a regular on the left side of the new three-man defence, and on the back of recent performances he has been called up by Singapore for their
forthcoming Tiger Cup fixtures. I monitored the movements of the Reds no.15 during the Leyton Orient game and these are my main observations:
TACKLING: One of Bennett's main attributes is his ability to stay close to marauding centre-forwards. Against the Londoners he was sensible in his play, and for the most part avoided making rash challenges. However, in the 70th minute he did dive in to a tackle, and as a result almost gifted the opposition a good goal-scoring opportunity. I also noticed that he likes to play his way out of trouble after making a tackle rather than hoofing the ball straight into Row Z.
HEADING: Bennett is not over-tall (6'1''), but I would say he is competent enough in the air. He looked steady throughout Saturday's game and made one or two crucial clearances after threatening crosses were whipped in from the flanks. I was particularly impressed by the way in which he got a head to long and dangerous opposition goal-kicks when he was tracking back towards his own penalty box, and when he had a pacy striker in tow as well.
DISTRIBUTION: The 24-year-old alternates between the short cross-field pass and the raking ball upfield. Most of the time, he settled for the safety-first option, but as he became more frustrated with the 0-0 stalemate he was not afraid to be slightly more ambitious. On three or four occasions he launched excellent long-range passes up to Morrell and Jones, and the latter especially was able to benefit.
GOING FORWARD: Bennett is the kind of defender who likes to pick up the ball from the goalkeeper on the edge of his own box and move forward with it. This is definitely his natural game, and it is refreshing to see this style of play in the lower reaches of the Football League. Against Paul Brush's men he got caught out of position in the first half after he had galloped forward, and occasionally went up for corners, even though he did not cause too much trouble.
In general I would say that DB is a mature and undemonstrative player (only one booking in ten games this season) and his major asset is the way he is able to read the game. He is always alert, never asleep, and against Leyton Orient he was constantly monitoring the movements of attackers and midfielders alike.
He recently said that football in Britain is far quicker than in the Singapore S-League, and you can tell that he likes to have time on the ball in his own half. There are one or two things he could work on - his tackling
and his potency in the opposition penalty box - but these are minor quibbles.
The Great-Yarmouth born defender is an excellent find, and a feather in the cap for the WINS fundraising group who put up the cash to bring him over to North Wales late last season.