South Asians in Football Weekly: Benning shines bright at Shrewsbury


The latest edition of South Asians in Football Weekly is out after another good week for the community in the Beautiful Game…

Mal Benning put in another impressive display to help Shrewsbury to their second clean sheet in three games, boosting their League One survival hopes.

The full-back, who is the only British South Asian to score under the arch in a play-off final at Wembley Stadium, played the full 90 minutes in Shrewsbury’s goalless draw away at Bristol Rovers.

Shrewsbury are currently seven points clear of the League One relegation zone and have five matches left to play.

Benning has become a fan-favourite since joining Shrewsbury from Port Vale last summer and is playing some of the best football of his career.

He has appeared in 22 of the club’s last 23 matches, with his performances earning him back-to-back Player of the Month accolades for the months of January and February.

Hamza Choudhury
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Hamza Choudhury has featured in 37 matches for Leicester City this season

Hamza Choudhury helped Leicester City get their Championship promotion bid back on track as they came from behind to beat play-off chasing Norwich City 3-1.

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Gabriel Sara put the Canaries in front inside 20 minutes after a clever corner routine – a carbon copy of the goal John Stones scored for Man City against Liverpool last month.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and Norwich City

But Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall headed in to equalise before laying on an assist for Stephy Mavididi to win the game, with Jamie Vardy adding a third in injury-time.

Danny Batth, who joined Choudhury and Benning in last year’s first-of-its-kind South Asians in Football Team of the Season, was an unused substitute for Norwich.

Yan Dhanda contributed the assist for Simon Murray’s goal in Ross County’s 2-1 Scottish Premiership defeat against Aberdeen, while Zidane Iqbal came on in the second half at the De Kuip Stadium in FC Utrecht’s 4-2 loss at Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie.

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Highlights from the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Ross County

Easah Suliman returned to club action after international duty with Pakistan, helping Sumgayit FK keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Araz-Naxcivan in the Azerbaijan Premier League.

‘Ricky Hill was top class’

PA NEWS PHOTO 24/11/83 LONDON BORN MIDFIELDER RICKY HILL OF LUTON TWON F.C. IN ACTION
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Ricky Hill made his Luton Town debut at the age of 17 and went to make more than 500 appearances for the club

Trailblazer Ricky Hill was “a wonderful player”, says the man responsible for his signing at Luton Town.

Hill grew up close to Wembley Stadium in the London Borough of Brent, and was spotted playing for Neasden’s John Kelly Boys Technology College by then-Luton reserve team boss David Pleat during a Schools’ cup tie in Hitchin in 1975.

Luton Town returned to the First Division when they beat Shrewsbury Town 4-1. Celebrating after the game with champagne is Brian Stein (left) and Ricky Hill.
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Brian Stein (left) and Ricky Hill celebrate Luton winning the title and earning promotion to the top flight of English football in 1982

In March 2021, Sky Sports News revealed that the book, Love of the Game, co-authored by Hill and Adrian Durham, had changed our understanding of the English game by showing Hill’s family on his father’s side hail from Uttar Pradesh in India – making him the only South Asian heritage player ever to play for the Three Lions at senior level.

“Ricky Hill was a wonderful player and a super lad. He was top class,” Pleat, who went on to manage Luton Town, told Sky Sports News.

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Former Luton Town and England midfielder Ricky Hill told Sky Sports News in 2021 that he feels ‘invisible’ in the UK despite his success as a coach abroad

“He was a creative player with a lovely feel for the game. He was a natural with a such a soft touch, and he was a strong boy.

“All the players that played against us also respected him. He was a fine player and he did wonderfully well for Luton Town.”

Singh makes Woking switch

Woking have completed the signing of Stoke City youngster Sonny Singh on a loan deal until the end of the season.

Singh, 20, played academy football at Leicester City and Sunderland earlier in his career, and made 12 appearances for Stoke City in Premier League 2 last term.

The defensive midfielder played on loan at National League North sides Hereford and Rushall Olympic earlier this season.

Rovers continue record-breaking run

Millie Chandarana Blackburn Rovers
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Millie Chandarana has enjoyed a record-breaking season with Blackburn Rovers

Millie Chandarana featured in Blackburn’s emphatic 4-1 victory away at Reading as Rovers continued their good form by making it five games unbeaten.

Rovers, who have already amassed their highest ever Women’s Championship points total, are now level on points with sixth-placed Sheffield United with a game in hand as they try and finish in the top half of the table.

Simran Jhamat started in West Bromwich Albion’s 1-0 win against Fylde, while Kira Rai came on in Derby County’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest in the East Midlands derby at Pride Park.

Teenager Layla Banaras got some more valuable minutes as Wolves cemented their grip on fourth place in the National League Northern Premier Division with a 2-0 win away at Huddersfield.

Birmingham City starlet Banaras, 18, has featured in four of Wolves’ last five matches since joining the club on dual registration.

Layla Banaras with Sky Sports News' Dev Trehan at last season's FA Women's Championship clash between Birmingham at Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew's
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Layla Banaras catches up with Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan at last season’s FA Women’s Championship clash between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew’s

Banaras was described as an outstanding youngster by former Blues manager Carla Ward, and earned plaudits after producing a nutrition guide and meal planner, launched on Sky Sports News, to better prepare Muslim athletes for fasting during Ramadan. Banaras was aged just 15 at the time.

British South Asians in Football

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