Spurs clash with rivals Stoke 'too early' to decide fate of the title
NEWTON Abbot Spurs boss Paul Dyson said it's too early for this weekend's clash against Stoke Gabriel at The Rec (2.15pm) to be anywhere near decisive in the title race.
The two sides meet in Newton Abbot this weekend with Spurs top of the table after nine games, and Stoke back in fifth – but only two points behind.
Having nicked a Devon Premier Cup win over Galmpton United last weekend, Spurs are riding high on confidence and seem to have the winning habit.
And they are now are hoping to make it a double against Stoke, who they beat 1-0 on the opening weekend of the season.
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Last weekend was a case in point for Spurs, who had to field right-back Joe Andrews in goal for most of the second half after Ross Bellotti injured his groin.
Though Galmpton equalised on 72 minutes, it was Spurs who survived the onslaught and scored the winner with several minutes remaining.
"The one thing I would say about my players is that they don't know when they are beaten," said Dyson, who saw his team hack several shots off the line.
"Everyone I've spoken to over the past few weeks has said it's a much more open league this year, and there are probably four or five teams – including us – who could win it. But we're only in the early part of November and whoever wins this weekend is not necessarily going to go on and win the league.
"Even if we win I won't be saying next week that we are going to go on and win the title."
Bellotti could be the only player from last weekend's starting line-up to miss out this weekend, with Reserves keeper James Aggett the most likely stand-in.
But the Spurs bench could be thin, with Kev Dadd, Matt Micklewright, Mark Smale and Tias Morgan all ruled out this weekend.
Dyson added: "To be honest we're never been in this position before, so we're not really used to the situation, and I think we should just try and enjoy it and do that old clichéd thing of taking one game at a time."
Meanwhile, Stoke Gabriel player-manager Gary Fisher will be missing influential skipper Mark Newbould for the tie.
Newbould scored an Andrea Pirlo-style chipped penalty and an even better free-kick in Stoke's Devon Premier Cup clash against Bideford Reserves last weekend.
But after Bideford fought back to 2-2, it took two headed goals from Fisher and a thumping finish from Jordan Hopkins to see Stoke over the line.
Fisher said his team were used to 'playing to the occasion' and believed they would be up for this week's tie.
"I'm confident in my team and that we can go there with the right attitude," he said.
"There's talk that it's a six-pointer, but there are other teams up there like Alphington and Exmouth.
"They [Spurs] are top of the league for a reason and are the team who everyone wants to beat – and it's no different for us."
TOTNES and Dartington are hosting Exeter University at the Foxhole Sports Ground on Saturday (2.15pm) looking to gain the first league win in more than a month.
Tots played only once in Division One East in October, losing 4-3 at Alphington, while their last league win was on September 15 against Okehampton Argyle.
Boss Sav Savva welcomes back captain Mark Ashworth and striker Jamie Chamberlain to the squad after a 5-1 defeat against an impressive Exmouth side on Saturday.
He said: "They [Uni] are going to be stronger than when we first played them so it will be a tough game – but I don't think they will be as strong as Exmouth."