Badshot Lea co-manager Gavin Smith has praised his side for sealing a top-two finish in the Combined Counties Premier Division South this season – but admitted he would be disappointed if they missed out on promotion.
The Baggies won 2-1 against Balham in the league on Saturday and 2-0 against Colliers Wood United on Wednesday to reach 91 points. Smith hopes his side can pip league leaders Raynes Park Vale to the title and seal the one automatic promotion spot, although second place and a play-off game against a Step 4 side is the most likely outcome.
And Smith wants his side to keep on winning so they enter any potential play-off in the best possible form.
“We need to win every game and the lads need to feel that pressure going into a potential play-off,” he said. “We want to put the pressure on them.
“A play-off final is like a cup final. To be fair to the lads we always turn up in games where we feel we’re the underdogs. Against Raynes Park and Jersey we were the underdogs.”
Saturday’s win saw the Baggies reach the 100-goal mark for the season and Smith is delighted with the progress his side have made, but he wants a promotion to show for it.
“Our aim at the start of the season was to improve on last year – to get more points, more wins and score more goals,” said Smith. “We drew too many games last year.
“If someone had offered us top two at the start of the season we would have taken it, but it will be really disappointing if we don’t get promoted now – you don’t always get these opportunities.
“We were hoping Jersey might get something against Raynes Park on Saturday, but we can only control what we do. Last year Beckenham were promoted with 92 points and Walton & Hersham were promoted with 91 points.
“The league was probably stronger last year – but we can’t ask for much more. If you get above 90 points you are unlucky to not get promoted.
“We’ve got to keep winning – if Raynes Park win their games then fair play to them.”
The Baggies trailed 1-0 against Balham at half-time on Saturday, but turned the game on its head thanks to goals from substitutes Jake Hawker and Adam New. Smith admitted he wasn’t happy with the first-half performance, but he was pleased with the turnaround after the break.
“We were rubbish in the first half,” said Smith. “Craig Bradshaw was unbelievable in goal, and the back five all did their jobs. Balham are a good side. They like to pass the ball.
“They scored a good goal and could have had another couple if it wasn’t for Craig in goal.
“We went in at half-time and we didn’t rant or rave – we said we needed to do more. We asked for more desire and work rate – it wasn’t a tactical masterclass.
“Balham didn’t get out of their half in the second half.
“The lads did the right things – because we improved it made it easier for the substitutes coming on to get into the game. All the changes we made paid off. We put Jake on and Adam went up front as we needed to win the game. Adam produced a bit of quality.”
Kane Fitzgerald gave the Baggies the lead from the penalty spot in the first half, and Dean Rule scored the second after the break.
“It was all about the three points,” said Smith. “We dominated the game in the first half and probably should have scored more. The second goal put the game to bed.”