Chris Jones is Barnstaple Town's Rafael Benítez
THERE are few similarities between Chelsea and Barnstaple Town.
But a spectator at Mill Road on Saturday spotted one when he described Chris Jones as the "interim manager".
Like Rafael Benítez at Stamford Bridge, Jones does not know if he will be a permanent fixture in the dugout.
But he is at least likely to know his fate sooner than the Spaniard.
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It is likely Barnstaple will have a new manager in place soon after this weekend's trip to Gillingham Town in the Toolstation Western League.
Jones has had a taste of the difficulties that will face the new man in charge, patching together teams for defeats to Buckland Athletic and Radstock Town since Dave Griffiths resigned last month. It has not put him off.
"I don't know if I'm going to get the job," said Jones, who coached the reserve team before it was disbanded.
"I have put my application in and I am just one of I don't know how many."
The priority for the new manager will not be so much finding players as putting together a settled squad – Barnstaple have used 46 players in 22 games this season.
"There isn't a shortage of players," said Jones. "When I'm with the chairman his phone never stops ringing with people offering him players or wanting to play."
Four – George Floyde, Luke Evans, Andros Stavrinou and Martyn Edwards – made their debuts against Radstock on Saturday.
The lack of cohesion showed as Barnstaple responded positively to conceding an early goal but struggled to get into any sort of flow.
"We had four new players in the team," said Jones. "And we haven't been training.
"(In those circumstances) continuity of passing is difficult."
A number of times in the second half, Barnstaple went close to equalising Isaac Reid's 12th-minute opener, scored after the striker managed to round goalkeeper Adam Fuller from a through-ball by Cameron Brown.
But the opportunities were largely self-created by the tireless Danny Jenkins and Ross Jones, who saw two long-range volleys saved by Chris Wright.
The second of those led to a 57th-minute corner from which a swivelling shot by Jenkins pinged off the post.
The striker also drew a fine full-stretch save from Wright with a turn and shot on the edge of the area.
Evans did beat Wright to the ball in the 79th minute but he stabbed his shot just wide.
Radstock, with Brown and Jibari Ngozi impressing in midfield, looked far larger and more athletic than the home team and had threatened to run away with the game in a bright opening.
But Barnstaple weathered the storm and looked more likely to score until Josh Reid settled it with Radstock's second five minutes from time.
The ball broke to the midfielder wide on the right and he drilled his shot beyond Fuller and inside the far post.
"What they had in skill, we matched in workrate, it was tremendous," said Jones, who will have plenty of work on his hands himself if the chairman grants his wish.
John Clarke's history of Barnstaple Town – Celebrating 100 Years of Memories 1906-2006 – has been relaunched.
The book is available from WH Smith and Mr Clarke on 01271 374055.