Published: 06:30, 11 September 2017
Even Ryan Hayes' harshest critics were singing his praises on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old was named man-of-the-match after scoring one and setting up two in the Darts' 3-0 win over Chippenham Town at Princes Park.
Hayes was beaming after the game.
"I did enjoy it," he said. "It must have been all right because Elliot Bradbrook paid me a compliment, which he hasn’t done for about five years!
"When your captain and manager have complimented you on what you do, you know you’ve had a good day but the main thing is the three points and if you can score and help the team win, all the better.
"It seemed to work our way. They were trying to press us and we were getting on the break. That’s when we’re at our best, when we get on the break and can counter-attack teams.
"We thought they were going to play a lot longer than they did. They tried passing it a lot shorter and we did well to go in at 1-0 to be fair. It was a good performance in the first half."
Hayes got the ball rolling when he collected Lee Noble's raking pass in the 26th minute and sent a pinpoint cross to the back post for Alfie Pavey to head in.
"We've been talking about it," Hayes said of the midfield link-up. "Nobes finds so much space and he’s got that in the locker, the diag. It was a great ball out and I managed to cut inside and find one of the boys in the middle.
"It was a great header from Alf and that’s what he can do. The gaffer says as long as we get crosses in, the front boys should be putting them away.
"We knew they had to come out at us (after that) and that was only going to benefit us. We got the second goal and it killed the game."
Again Hayes was the creator, crossing low for Andy Pugh after Chippenham left-back Nuno Felix had failed to cut out Bradbrook's ball to the flank.
Hayes said: "I just had a feeling he was going to miss it. Sometimes you can tell. The floor was wet, it skidded up and lucky enough, I put a ball in and Pughy’s put it away."
The script was complete 14 minutes from time when Hayes swept home his 103rd goal for Dartford after substitutes Tom Murphy and Andy Pugh had combined to set him up.
"It was same old, same old," Hayes shrugged. "I cut in and managed to put it in the bottom corner.
"Murph did brilliantly on the left. If he comes on that late in games, he’s going to kill people with his pace. He’s found Pughy and he’s been unselfish and put it across to me, which I was very grateful for.
"The gaffer said before the game ‘look at the squad, look at who we’ve got on the bench today’ and when you bring Murph and Pughy on, you know you’ve got to be working hard to keep your place in the team - and hopefully I’m doing that."
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