MAN of the match Scot Bennett says he’s happy to be a part of one of League Two’s meanest defences after playing a starring role for Newport County AFC in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with leaders Exeter City.

Bennett has been used mainly as a holding midfielder in recent seasons but he moved back into defence at the weekend as manager Michael Flynn looked to stifle the threat posed by the table toppers.

And Bennett excelled at the heart of a three-man back line with Mark O’Brien and Kyle Howkins either side of him.

The trio were disappointed to let Lee Martin bundle Exeter into an early lead from a corner, but they limited the Grecians to very few chances after that.

The Exiles created the better opportunities after going behind and Bennett felt they could have added to Tristan Abrahams’ second-half equaliser from the penalty spot.

He told iFollowExiles: “I think we started the game well and in the first five or ten minutes we looked sharp.

“But then we switched off for 10 to 15 minutes and allowed Exeter to get into the game and they went and got their goal in that time as well, which was a sloppy goal to give away.

“I thought we outplayed them second half and it was a shame that we didn’t take more of the chances we created.

“On our day, we fancy ourselves against anyone so it’s just a shame that we switched off for the 10 to 15 minutes in the first half because without that and the sloppy goal, I think we would have got the three points.

“Maybe it is a little bit [a case of two points dropped] just because of the chances we created.

“I think it is a little bit, but Exeter are a good side so it’s a good point.”

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Bennett revealed that the switch to three at the back was the brainchild of Exiles assistant manager Wayne Hatswell.

“We worked on it a little bit on Friday,” said the 28-year-old, who started his career at Exeter.

“Hats came in and that’s what we decided we’d go for.

“They play quite wide with their two strikers and he wanted me to get on the ball and step in as much as I could, break up the play in-front of OB and Kyle.

“I think it worked quite well, I got on the ball quite a bit, broke up a lot of play and then OB and Kyle put their bodies on the line to head balls away and they did what they had to do.

“It was a good tactic I thought, we outplayed them second half and it was just a shame that we couldn’t take all three points.”

On his man of the match award, Bennett added: “It’s always nice but I’d have taken the win over it.

“I always try and perform to the best of my ability and it’s worked out this time and I’m happy with it.”

And, despite the disappointment of conceding early on against Exeter, Bennett says County are happy with their defensive record so far this season.

Only Forest Green Rovers have conceded fewer times than Michael Flynn’s men, who have allowed their opponents just six goals in 10 games so far.

“In the summer, we looked to work on our defence,” said Bennett.

“Our defensive capabilities weren’t always at their best last season and we conceded a lot of goals.

“It’s something we worked on and you can see the benefits this season.

“It’s not always been the same partnerships but whoever has played has put their body on the line and dug deep.

“We’re one of the meanest defences in League Two and that’s an accolade we’re all really proud of.”

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