Jay Benn: The Lowdown on City’s Latest Signing

Jay Benn signs for Lincoln City at the Soper of Lincoln Elte Performance Centre July 1, 2022 Photo: Andrew Vaughan/Lincoln City FC

Jay Benn screams ‘one for the future’, but the rhetoric coming from the club in the official press release suggests he could be one for the here and now.

The Imps surely completed their defensive recruitment with the capture of the 20-year-old, who even the most ardent of Lincoln fans probably admit they hadn’t heard anything of before today. I hadn’t, and that’s where Wyscout comes in. I’ve had a look at some of Benn’s stats, to see if the claims Mark Kennedy has made in the press release are true.

There are some huge caveats here; firstly, Benn is in his first senior season, having started his first game for Halifax on August 21st this season. He’s only started nine league games for the club, and is very much an uncut diamond in need of some polishing. However, with such limited experience, would you expect to see him in the top 15 defenders in the entire National League for three defensive metrics? Probably not, but that’s exactly what he has.

Firstly, let’s take the obvious one; defensive duels. So we’re clear, a defensive duel is defined by Wyscout as being when ‘a player attempts to dispossess an opposition player to stop an attack progressing’. That’s a pretty important stat for a defender, and our new 20-year-old right back finished 13th for average defensive duels per 90 during the last season in the National League.

Credit Wyscout

Not only did he finish 13th, but his success rate was 59.3%, more than some very experienced footballers. It’s suggesting that far from a naive 20-year-old, we’ve signed a player with a dogged determination; dare I say a bit of Yorkshire in him?

That’s also evident in two other key metrics; recoveries and counter-pressing recoveries. Firstly, recoveries; this is quite simple; it is defined as ‘any action that ends a possession of the opposition team and starts a possession for the current team’. In basic terms, getting stuck in and winning the ball. Again, a 20-year-old kid (with respect) finished 14th out of all National League defenders for this metric, ahead of Callum McFadzean who was at Sunderland until a season or so ago. He averaged 10.24 recoveries per 90 minutes. Purely for comparison (and I know the levels were different) Regan Poole made 9.5 recoveries per 90 for us.

Credit Wyscout

This is certainly a promising start, and whilst the final metric I’ll use is one of those coaching terms that some find ridiculous, it is worth mentioning; counter-pressing recoveries. That’s any recovery that ends possession of the opposition team that had lasted less than five seconds; that means they’ve got the ball, and our new boy has got there and won it back. Guess what? Yep, he’s up there again, with 5.55 per 90 minutes.

Credit Wyscout

These stats might not mean anything at all in terms of what he’ll do for us, but I think they paint a great picture of a young player who has come in and is clearly not fazed at all. He’s got himself about the field, won tackles and pressed hard. That’s what we want to see, isn’t it? High-octane, intense football played high up the pitch.

I’ve also looked at what he does at the other end of the field, and again it’s always worth remembering this is a lad in his first season as a senior player, who had previously been brought on twice for a total of five minutes. He’s young, raw and yet delivering stats worth picking out. I’m not saying he’s proven himself as a world-beater, that would be ridiculous, but he has done enough in nine starts to underline his huge potential.

Credit Wyscout

What we have here is his dribbling in the final third, and it suggests he’s not bad in possession. He attempted 18 dribbles in his senior appearances, and 15 of those were successful; that’s a remarkable stat. He clearly likes to get forward and get at players, which is an attribute we all like. His crossing isn’t too bad; in his ten matches this season he made 2.54 crosses, per game with a 37.5% success rate, which is decent. In fairness, Cohen Bramall averaged 3.71 per game, but at just 27.4%, so the numbers aren’t that bad.

I’m not attempting to say Jay Benn is a top signing, but I am demonstrating he is a good capture. He might not be ready for League One, he might surprise us all, but I can see in the numbers exactly why we’ve gone for him. I’ve watched some of his clips, and in his first start against Maidenhead, he provided an assist as part of a move that looked a lot like one of our patterns of play. Sadly, I can’t find the clip on YouTube, only Wyscout, so I can’t add it here, but he made a run in behind a full back and laid a lovely goal on for his teammate.

This morning, you hadn’t heard of Jay Benn. If he progresses as he has with Halifax Town I think you’ll be hearing plenty about him over the next 12 months.