Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale says he wishes he had “three Scot Bennetts” to choose from for Good Friday’s trip to promotion-chasing Chesterfield.
The versatile 23-year-old has filled a number of roles for the Grecians this season, but has always been a regular in Tisdale’s starting XI.
He lined up as a striker in last Saturday’s 1-1 League Two draw with Cheltenham Town, and has also played at right-back, central midfield and centre-back during the season.
Wherever Bennett has played, he has always done a job for Exeter, though, and Tisdale has paid tribute to his understanding of the game, which makes his versatility such an asset.
“I wish I had three Scot Bennetts because they would probably all play in the team,” Tisdale said of the young Cornishman.
“Sometimes it’s like a leaking roof and we need a bucket, so we move him about and try and find where you can get the best out of him for the team.
“Against Cheltenham, he kept the ball in and around their back four really well and that was the purpose.
“He is not a world-class striker and he hasn’t played a lot of football there, but what he does is keep the ball in and around that area.
“I just thought we needed to turn bad balls into good balls and keep the pressure on their back four and he did that really well and he gave the midfield a chance to get close to him.
“At Bury, we didn’t have enough pressure in the last third and it was the same against Accrington. On Saturday, we had more pressure. We didn’t make the most of it at times, but we had ball in and around their penalty box more than we have done in the last two games and that was the purpose of having Scot there.”
Bennett could have marked a rare attacking start with a goal, but missed a sitter when Tom Nichols’ shot was spilled by the goalkeeper and landed at his feet. Unfortunately for City, he put the rebound wide.
“We hit the target with a very good shot from Tom Nichols and Scot was the first on the rebound,” Tisdale added. “There was no one else on it, he was on it like a shot and the ball came at him very straight.
“Sometimes, you don’t want it coming at you straight, you want it at the angle and he missed it because it didn’t come at him quite as he would have hoped.
“That’s not to excuse him completely because I’d like to see the ball in the net, but at least he was on it, so well done him.”
Only time will tell whether Bennett starts up front against Chesterfield – the ground where he was first tried out as a striker in the final game of last season – or whether he drops back into midfield.
Tisdale must also decide on whether to retain Pat Baldwin, who played well and was named man of the match against Cheltenham, or recall captain Danny Coles, who missed the match through suspension.
“What Pat does well, he did well against Cheltenham,” Tisdale said. “The performance of a senior player like Pat is to add value to others and that is what I will be reminding him and others when they get into similar situations.
“When the goalkeeper has the ball in his hands and there are 30 seconds to go, can he add value at that point? There are all those sort of hidden moments that Pat did very well with on Saturday.”
Tisdale also decided to drop regular number one Artur Krysiak and hand a rare start to 18-year-old rookie Christy Pym between the sticks. The youngster fared well, but the City boss refused to elaborate on the reason behind Krysiak’s omission.
“I selected 11 players that were right for the day,” Tisdale said. “The decisions are so fine and I don’t want to lump too much importance or information on to each decision because they can be so fine in terms of quantifying these things.
“We had a full squad of players fully supporting the team and there are a number of players that have to be ready to contribute between now and the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, City fans have not had much to shout about in recent seasons and a recent survey suggests they are third in a list of long-suffering supporters.
The English National Football Archive undertook a study of 220,000 results since the Football League’s inception in 1888 and has compiled a ‘Long-Suffering Fan Index’ in which Exeter finished third from top and Manchester United at the bottom.
Rochdale have been named the longest-suffering fans in English football history, while Devon rivals Torquay United were placed seventh.