Badshot Lea aim to keep pressure on leaders

Saturday 15th January 2022 7:00 am
Badshot Lea co-manager Gavin Smith
Badshot Lea co-manager Gavin Smith is not putting pressure on his side (Tindle )

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BADSHOT LEA are aiming to give the big boys in the Combined Counties League a run for their money in the second half of the season.

The Baggies have been in the promotion shake-up at the top of the Premier Division South since the campaign kicked off.

They have lost just twice in the league – although the number of matches they have drawn has seen them slip to fourth place.

Even though they are up against quite a few clubs with hefty playing budgets who can use their cheque books to attract some of the best talent around, they have kept pace.

And co-manager Gavin Smith is looking for more of the same in the second half of the season.

“There’s plenty to play for. We put ourselves in a position that we all got excited with – it’s hard not to when you’re dong well,” he said.

“But to be consistent at any level is tough and we have another 19 games to go. If we achieve in those matches what we have achieved in the first half of the season, we will be delighted.

“It won’t be enough to get promoted but for us, winning another nine or ten games and keeping defeats to a minimum would be unbelievable.

“The teams at the top are strengthening – clubs like Raynes Park Vale have been on a heck of a run and other clubs have games in hand, but we have just got to focus on ourselves and what we do. We want to stay at the top end of the table.

“We have to believe there is something for us in the league – the top two go up and you never know what is going to happen.

“I can’t see Walton losing too many games but they might think that of us, too.

“We have to try to win as many games as we can but when we play the teams at the top end, they’re so important.

“We play Walton & Hersham at the end of the month, we still have to play Beckenham twice and have to go to Jersey – and our aim has to be to upset some of these teams.

“We drew with Walton earlier this season but we should have beaten them. We are good enough to be beating teams like that and that’s what I want to see us do – and in our other games against sides lower in the table, we have to be more ruthless.

“We’re looking forward to that Walton game – we have nothing to fear.

“We are happy with the players we have – I’m not sure we can get a lot better, based on the size of our club and what we have to offer.”

The Baggies have been frustrated since the festive campaign, with matches being postponed.

They have made up for their league inactivity by arranging friendlies against Hartley Wintney and Alton.

“We wanted to give some people some minutes on the pitch and we played on Alton’s all-weather pitch on Tuesday night,” said Smith.

They go into the second half of the season without the talent of Dean Rule to call upon, who has joined league leaders Walton & Hersham.

“Dean has a great attitude to the game – he loves it and Walton are a good club. They are at our level at the minute but they have been higher,” said Smith.

“You always want to see people push on and go to clubs a level above but I can see why he has gone there – they’re a good club, have a good pitch and good people. They will more than likely get promoted this season.

“We move on, though – we have got some of our players back now from injury so it’s not as if we don’t have other options.

“We have people already at the club who will score goals and we have Nick Medcraft back. He’s been filling in at left-back for us and has been doing really well, but we can move him further forward now and he’ll score goals.

“I don’t feel we need anyone in that area.

“We could do with more bodies in midfield, though. James Whiting has been recalled by Farnborough which is a shame as he had just started doing really well for us. He was just settling in and was doing better and better but was called back.

“For him to be involved in their first team at Southern League level is good for him – although not so good for us.

“We are a bit light in midfield now and we have put in a couple of approaches for players we have seen and like.

“It feels as if we are constantly having to look at new players – we seem to have been losing players all year. But we’ll be all right – a couple of wins and we will be on track.”

The Baggies are on the road today (Saturday) when they make the trip to Horley, who sit just below them in the table.

“We played Horley in our first game of the season and we beat them 6-1 so they’ll be up for the match and looking for revenge,” said Smith.

“This season the results probably haven’t always been quite what we wanted but there have been parts in almost every game when our performance has been really, really good. We just need to find that bit of consistency.

“I watched the Fleet defeat back on video and on another day we would have taken our chances – and that was why we were winning games earlier in the season.

“At most levels of football the side who go ahead in a match go on to win, and we have just not been doing that.

“The first goal is always crucial – at our level teams are always going to make some mistakes and at the moment we seem to be punished for every one we make.

“We have to take our chances in front of goal and be more ruthless.”

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