A BRACE apiece from Sam Barnes and Callum Noyce helped Newton Abbot Spurs to a 5-1 win over Dartmouth on Tuesday night.

The sides were level-pegging at the break through goals from Barnes and Dartmouth’s Sol Barclay but a 15-minute blitz after the interval saw Spurs race into a four-goal lead, with Barnes, Noyce (2) and Will Hancox finding the net.

‘We looked good,’ said delighted Spurs boss Marc Revell. 

‘In the first two games, we weren’t very comfortable with the ball at our feet so we went with a training session a couple weeks ago that highlighted that and then we went more direct against Elburton and I said to be more direct against Dartmouth too but because the lads grew into the game quickly, their confidence was there with the ball. 

‘We got the ball into areas where our players are better and stronger with the ball at their feet and once we got the ball into midfield the lads were brilliant.’

Twelve minutes were on the clock when Barnes put his side in front. The midfielder, who joined from South Devon League side Kingsteignton Athletic over the summer, spotted Dartmouth ‘keeper Scott Corderoy straying from his line and met a lofted delivery with his head, cleverly looping the ball over the stranded shot-stopper.

‘He’s a monster,’ Revell said of his new midfield maestro. 

‘He’s very much part of what we discussed, good on the floor but also  very good at not letting teams settle. Sam’s bit of an engine, and I said to him that I didn’t want him to play with his back to goal so much, but if he does he’s to offload it to Gav [Collins] and Will [Hancox] and get himself up the pitch. 

‘None of our midfielders last season stayed to a particular role but I think Sam will do that this season. He’s fit, he’s strong, he’s intelligent, he’s vocal – he’s got everything about him.’

Spurs 5-1 Darts
Sam Barnes, second from right, was labelled a 'monster' by his gaffer. (Josh Goodman)

At no point in the opening 45 was there a lot to choose between the sides. The Darts clapped back just six minutes after the breakthrough, when a corner was only half cleared and Barclay was able to blast home from outside the area.

‘I knew when I looked at Dartmouth that they’d have perseverance and a little bit of industry, and I knew they wouldn’t give up because that’s what [coach] Phil Pickavant’s going to get into them,’ Revell explained. 

‘Despite their one draw and three defeats, he was very positive when I spoke to him before the game because he knows what he’s dealing with. He’s got a bunch of players on his registered list but didn’t use any of them as ringers when he probably could’ve, and I think that is testament to what he’s doing there. I support that; it’s great.’

The first 15 minutes after the half-time break were remarkable for those in blue. It took just four minutes for Spurs to push their noses in front as Noyce headed home. Two minutes after that, he beat Corderoy again, this time breaking into a pocket of space and drilling a low effort home at the near post.

Barnes and Hancox rounded off the scoring.

‘I said to the forwards [at half-time] that in the final third we were trying to do a little bit too much,’ Revell said. 

‘Our wingers were trying to go past the full-backs and Harry Ford was looking to get into a shooting position impatiently, rather than being as patient as we had been in the first two thirds of the pitch. 

‘Second half, we worked the ball around the box a bit because an opponent’s weaker players are always going to their defence. I told the forwards not to get too frustrated with he defenders, and I told the defenders not to get frustrated with the forwards – they’ve both bailed each other out in games before. 

‘The second half was about the six attackers – three midfielders and three forwards – winning the game for the rest of the team. And within 15 minutes that had happened. It’s nice when you ask your players to go and do something and they execute it – it almost gives purpose to why you’re managing them.’

Revell continued: ‘The main thing in this league is that you find out opposition players’ and teams’ weaknesses if you squeeze them. If you give players a lot on time on the ball they can play it their way. If you stop them from doing that and they haven’t got another game plan, you nullify them very quickly. 

‘We looked good defensively; when we didn’t have the ball we looked tight, and it’s nice to know we’ve only conceded one goal in the last two games, albeit we conceded seven in the first two. 

‘Without getting too carried away, everything I’m expecting so far, I’m getting.’