Cheltenham Town video: Bennett's special victory dedication
ALAN Bennett dedicated Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over Oxford United to his late grandfather after finally being given a chance to put one of the most difficult months of his life behind him.
The Cheltenham Town captain, who made more than 50 appearances last season, has endured an injury-hit start to his second campaign with the club.
A tight hamstring in the opening match of the season against MK Dons was followed by a shoulder injury, ruling him out of the first League Two match at home to Dagenham and Redbridge.
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Bennett then received sad news on the morning of Cheltenham's match at Aldershot Town on August 25 when his mother called from Ireland to say his granddad John Hogan – a man who had been a huge influence on his career – had died.
He travelled home to pay his last respects and was then desperate to return to what he loves doing more than anything else – defending Cheltenham's goal.
But a calf injury picked up in training in the build-up to the visit to former club Wycombe Wanderers compounded his misery and prolonged his agony.
With soft goals costing Mark Yates' side dear, Bennett returned to renew his defensive partnership with Steve Elliott against Oxford as Cheltenham returned to winning ways after back-to-back defeats on home soil.
Bennett said his granddad was in his thoughts as he led Cheltenham out and he said the victory was for him.
"He was the president of our local football club back home and he had 14 kids, 42 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren," Bennett said.
"He was a real inspiration for me and always told me to do my best. He was a real people person and is what I aspire to be like.
"I had a dark couple of days, but Tuesday was for him and I want a good season for him too now."
Bennett was quick to deflect praise on to his team-mates for Cheltenham's first home league win over Oxford in a decade.
"It was nothing to do with me really because the boys were brilliant, I just tried to put in a shift and keep calm heads after they scored," he said.
"I am just really happy with the three points and it's something for us to build on and take to York on Saturday."
Cheltenham led 2-0 through long-range strikes from Darren Carter and Shaun Harrad before Bennett was adjudged to have fouled James Constable in the penalty area.
Peter Leven converted from the spot with ten minutes left to set up a tense finale, but Bennett praised Cheltenham for the steel they showed to hang on for maximum points.
"I don't think it was a penalty and there weren't many appeals from their players," Bennett said.
"The referee gave it maybe 15 or 20 seconds after the incident, but I'm just happy with the three points.
"We showed some steel and determination at the end and the sort of ugliness needed to win games.
"We know we have the pretty players and the technical players, probably the whole lot apart from me and Steve Elliott. But it was a really good all-round performance and the goals show the quality we have."