Norwich City midfielder Elliott Bennett’s love affair with the FA Cup
Elliott Bennett has a recent FA Cup pedigree the like of which his present employers can only cast envious glances towards.
The former Brighton midfielder scored twice in the competition last season as the Seagulls went all the way to the fifth round before losing at Premier League Stoke. Bennett also notched a brace in the earlier rounds the season before prior to another exit at top-flight opposition in Aston Villa. With the Canaries striving to reach the fourth round this afternoon for only the third time in the past 15 seasons, Bennett confirmed he is a fully paid-up member of the FA Cup fan club.
'I don't think the magic will ever die. It's probably the best club cup competition, domestically, on the planet. Everyone looks forward to it and you always see some shocks, and the magic will always be there,' he said. 'That's the whole excitement of it. People will be looking and waiting for results to come in to see if there have been some scalps – lower teams beating teams from higher leagues. We just have to hope and make sure we do our best so it's not us. I've always started from the first round so it seems quite a long way, but we played Villa in the fourth round a couple of years ago for Brighton and got beaten up there 3-2, so that's probably my best memory of the FA Cup.'
Bennett insists the pressure to remain at the forefront of Paul Lambert's plans means a break from Premier League combat is no excuse to free-wheel. The 23-year-old is understandably keen to impress after Lambert demonstrated over the festive period he is prepared to utilise all his available manpower.
'It's another football match you want to win. If you play, you want to try to do well to keep in the starting line-up for the week after,' he said. 'It's a good pressure – you want to play football and we're very fortunate to do so, so everyone who plays just wants to do well and try to get himself in the starting line-up for the week after.
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'If you look over the Christmas period, we've got some good points on the board – a really important away win at Queens Park Rangers. We just look to the next game now and I'm sure the manager will keep changing it to see how everyone's playing and also doing fitness-wise.'
Bennett advanced his own claims with the cut-back at Loftus Road for Steve Morison's late winner. City's players and management celebrated in unison in front of the travelling support on the final whistle and Bennett conceded victories against potential rivals on their own manor carry an underlying significance.
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'You want to win every game but if you can beat the teams that are around you, or you think are going to be around you by the end of the season, that's even better,' he said. 'We were just delighted to have got the three points and in the manner that we did, which was really pleasing.'
The former Wolves trainee was also indirectly involved in the controversial first-half incident that saw Joey Barton red-carded.
'He's been sent off. I think it's all finished with now. There's not much point in talking about it, really,' he said. 'Sometimes your reputation does go before you, but I don't think he can really complain about that. I think we were on top in the game anyway. I know we were 1-0 down and whether we would have gone on to win with him still on the pitch, I don't know. But let's leave it now. We've got three points and we're happy to move on to the next game.'