THESE are interesting times for Badshot Lea.
Twelve months ago the new management team of Gavin Smith and Dave Ford were locked in a battle to keep the Baggies in the Premier Division after a poor first half of the season saw them languishing in the bottom two of the top flight.
A year on, safely ensconced in 13th place in the table despite a horrible run of eight consecutive defeats toward the end of last year, rejuvenated Lea could still make a run at the top six and are alive and well in two cup competitions.
Saturday’s draw with Sutton Common Rovers, after Danilo Cadete’s opener on 62 minutes was cancelled out by Sutton skipper Matt Farrell four minutes later, the skipper having earlier had his penalty saved by in-form Lea keeper Kallum Lunn, took Lea’s unbeaten run to six games in all competitions and underlines the spirit in the Baggies’ camp since Smith and Ford worked so tirelessly to shape a squad made up of players whose work ethic matches their own.
“Everything’s really good and really positive around the club and the mood in the changing room is better than ever,” said an upbeat Smith.
“I just look back now and think if we hadn’t have had that really bad period where we lost loads of players and were struggling, a couple of wins in that period out of the eight games would have put us right up the table, but these things happen and we’re a lot happier with how it’s going, and if we can keep everyone together we’ll be a lot more positive for next season.”
That said, there is still plenty to play for this season, with Lea having five games in February – four in the league starting with a trip to Cobham on Saturday and an intriguing Surrey Senior Cup clash with Isthmian South East side Whyteleafe at Westfield Lane on February 18.
They also face Isthmian League opposition in the form of Westside, who beat Farnham Town in the last round, in the quarter-finals of the Aldershot Senior Cup.
“We want to win something,” said Smith.
“That will be a tough game (against Whyteleafe) because they are a good side, but I want to play better sides, I don’t want to play teams around us, not in cup games, you want to test yourselves.”
After Cobham, the Baggies are at home to Guildford City, Colliers Wood and CB Hounslow while facing a trip to highflying Spelthorne.
That meeting with Spelthorne on February 15 will, bizarrely, be the first time the two sides will have met this season as the original game betwen the two sides at Westfield Lane in December fell victim to the weather – as did Tuesday’s rearranged game.
“Every game’s difficult, we’ve had a tough run of games,” said Smith.
“We just want to take each game as it comes and see what happens. At the moment the lads are buzzing and there’s a feelgood factor around the place, and if we can get another two or three wins in the next month you never know.”
Badshot Lea: Lunn, Blake, Pound, New, Framp, Carlisle, Smith, Matthews, Denham (Cotton 79), Latimer (Masudi 69), Cadete. Subs (not used): Baker, Pilling, Brown.