Exeter City defender Scot Bennett would be only too happy to make himself unpopular with his family this weekend – as some are keen supporters of Devon derby opponents Plymouth Argyle.
Bennett grew up in St Columb Major in Cornwall, but graduated through the youth ranks at St James’ Park.
There will be no love lost when the two great rivals go head-to-head at St James’ Park on Saturday in the first derby of the season and Bennett knows only too well that this is one game where he will not be counting on the support of his nearest and dearest.
“I’m looking forward to it, you always look forward to a derby and it is the first game you look for when you first get the fixtures,” he said. “I think everyone is looking forward to it, and we just want to get stuck into the game now.
“I have a few Plymouth fans in my family, which makes it interesting, but we all look forward to it. I am sure I will be able to have a good laugh with them after the game even if they hate me during it!
“We always have a bit of banter before the game and in the build-up, but I haven’t spoken to them much as I would normally because they are busy. Hopefully, I will speak to them before Saturday and we can have a bit more banter.”
It remains to be seen what role Bennett will play at the weekend, after a heroic performance in City’s 2-1 win at Fleetwood Town last time out. Bennett started as one of three centre-halves in manager Paul Tisdale’s grand plan, but switched to centre-forward on the hour mark with the score goalless.
Thirty minutes later, Bennett was walking off as the match-winner as his brace saw City overcome the blow of Matty Blair’s goal to record a remarkable 2-1 win, which gives the Grecians plenty of confidence going into the derby.
“I think the spirit is always going to be high before a derby game anyway, but with the win at Fleetwood – and no one really expecting it – it has given us a massive buzz,” he added. “Hopefully we can take that into the derby on Saturday and get the three points.
“The win gives us so much confidence, especially with the way we played. We set up with a game-plan and stuck to it and it worked really well, so the way we played and the manner in which we did it gives the club a lot of confidence going forward.”
Bennett’s new role as a makeshift centre-forward is nothing new and it is something City work on in training. His double on Saturday also took him to an impressive 12 goals in 67 League games for the Grecians, not bad for someone who has played 64 of those games in a more defensive role.
“I am enjoying it. It is a different experience to playing at centre-back, but if I keep doing what I did on Saturday then I will be very happy,” Bennett said.
“I was speaking about my goals record in training and it’s not bad for a defensive player. A lot of them have come from corners, but they all count and that is all that matters,” he added.
“It was the first time I’ve ever scored two goals in a game. The first one I was pleased with, I took it quite well and early so the ’keeper didn’t have a chance to steady himself.
“As for the second one, I just threw my leg out and hoped!”
Bennett added: “The manager [Tisdale] looked at me there in the last game of the season at Chesterfield and, since then, we have worked on it here and there in training and we do tend to do one or two bits every week where I have ended up playing up front.
“We work on it quite regularly now, and it seems to be a thing that he is looking at. The odd goal goes in in training as well, so it’s all good.”