“We wouldn’t have scored if we had been there all week!” That was the frank assessment of Badshot Lea boss Gavin Smith after he watched his side beaten all too easily by Premier Division rivals Spelthorne Sports on Saturday.
Going into the match on the back of a three-game winning streak, Lea inexplicably had a day to forget as they were very much second best on their travels to Middlesex.
Three goals in the space of 17 minutes either side of half time – two from Lewis Flatman and one from Jake Flatman – proved fatal, yet the scoreline could have been much more emphatic according to Smith who, alongside Dave Ford, was tasting defeat for the first time since taking over as Lea boss after Christmas.
“It could have been more,” admitted Smith. “We’re just going to have to write it off as a bad day and move on.”
The writing was arguably on the wall at the Spelthorne Sports Club ground within the first 60 seconds as Lea goalkeeper Jordan Clement was forced to make a fine save after being left one on one.
“We started badly and we simply never got going,” said Smith, who was disappointed at a lack of intensity at the club’s most recent training session ahead of a game in which Lea would have leapfrogged their rivals with a win.
“Despite where they (Spelthorne) are in the table, they are one of the better sides in the league. They were disciplined and they have got a good spirit, but the key thing was that they outworked us, they wanted it more, they had more passion, more desire, all the things we want to see from our lads. We just didn’t do enough to deserve anything from the game.”
Smith, with Ford by his side, has made a fine start to life in the Combined Counties League, masterminding three wins to move his relegation-threatened side out of the immediate danger zone, so Saturday’s tame surrender comes as something of a surprise.
“At this level that is always going to happen,” he said. “We couldn’t realistically keep winning, winning and winning, sometimes you need something like that to give you a little kick up the bum. We’ve been doing well work rate wise and are disciplined, we just looked a little bit ragged on Saturday which is the first time that’s happened.”
Work rate and desire are big watchwords for Smith and he was keen to get back onto the training ground tonight (Thursday) to set the record straight ahead of a game on Saturday against another side just ahead of them in the table, Balham, who have lost their last six games.
“We’ll make it clear what we want at training,” he said. “We want intensiy and a good work rate because you’ve got to take that into the game on Saturday.”
Lea expect to have striker Reece Connolly fit again for the Balham game while James Pilgrim should also return, but Jack May is out.
Badshot Lea: Clement, Pound, Roberts (Francis 60), Atkinson (Bonsu 46), Flanighan, Herbert, Blake, Cooksley (Thripp 75), May, Ford, Bell. Subs (not used): Close, Smith.